In May, Ms Malira Masoabi, a PhD student from the Institute for Plant Biotechnology (IPB), travelled to Hanover, Germany, to attend a Keystone conference on “Climate change-linked stress tolerance in plants". The event brought together scientists from across the world to discuss innovative research to counter the impact of climate change and limited water availability on crop production. Topics on the agenda included new advances in physiological and molecular phenotyping, and the recognition of multigene pathways that provide stress resilience in crop and model plant species.
Based on the abstract she had submitted to the conference organisers, Malira was invited not only to present a poster, but also to deliver an oral presentation on her work entitled “Involvement of SUMO proteases in post-translational regulation of drought response in sugarcane". The work forms part of Malira's doctoral study, for which she has developed transgenic sugarcane that over-expresses certain protease genes linked to the post-translational SUMOylation modification process in plants. SUMO proteins are cleaved by SUMO proteases into maturation, which then allows the binding to target proteins that might influence the abiotic stress response of the plant. Miss Masoabi's trip was made possible through the National Research Foundation's programme “Knowledge, Interchange and Collaboration" (KIC), which had made available a grant to her project supervisor, Dr Christell van der Vyver.
This was Malira's first overseas trip. In addition to attending the conference proceedings, she also found time to visit a few local sights, including the Herrenhausen Palace and gardens as well as Old Town Hanover.