Four FABIans presented at the 15th African Centre for Gene Technologies (ACGT) Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum held at the University of Witwatersrand on 18 May. The theme was “Plant genomes - from genes to networks”.  The keynote speaker was Dr Maria-Celeste Costa from the University of Cape Town (UCT) who spoke on gene co-expression networks of desiccation tolerance. 

Dr Eshchar Mizrachi from the FMG research group spoke on reverse engineering networks of secondary growth and their evolution in plants.  Presenters from the Molecular Plant-Pathogen Interactions (MPPI) research group were Prof Dave Berger and Zimbili Mlunjwa who spoke on a maize transcriptional network and candidate gene expression in the grey leaf spot pathosystem, respectively.  Katlego Masike from the Cereal Foliar Pathogen (CFPRG) research group outlined her strategy for host induced gene silencing (HIGS) for fungal resistance.  Dr Ansie Yssel from the University of Pretoria (UP) Bioinformatics spoke about her previous PhD work on microbial gene networks.

Other speakers included Prof Chrissie Rey and members of her team from Wits, who covered their research on cassava and its mosaic virus (gene networks, miRNAs and CRISPR).  The event was attended by about 80 local plant scientists including a delegation from North-West University, Mafikeng, illustrating the networking success of ACGT, a joint initiative between UP, Wits, UJ and ARC.