"Parasitic Plants and Fungal Invasion of Food Crops" - Inaugural Lecture, Anthony Siame
Parasitic plants are a major threat to today’s agriculture especially in subsistence farming. Although all crop species are potential hosts for parasitic plants, important cases in agriculture are usually restricted to specific parasite-host combinations. One such combination involves Striga (witchweed)) and its interactions with important food crops such as corn, sorghum and millet. Striga covers large areas of cultivated land and drastically reduces crop production in many parts of Asia and Africa Interestingly, Striga only germinates when it senses chemical exudates produced by host plants growing in close proximity to the weed. Another major constraint on food security worldwide and especially in many developing countries is the huge quantities of food that are wasted every year because they are invaded by toxic fungi or contaminated by toxic fungal products (mycotoxins) such as aflatoxins. In fact, it is estimated that mycotoxins affect a quarter of the world’s food crops, including many basic foodstuffs and animal feed. In his lecture, Anthony will give some insights into the Striga problem in Africa and outline some innovative work done to mitigate the problem and improve crop production. He will also discuss the extent of fungal and mycotoxin contamination of foods in African countries and some resulting health challenges. For example, aflatoxins are potent carcinogens and strong immune suppressors in humans. Anthony will conclude by highlighting some of the work being done with colleagues at TWU.
Dr. Siame was born in Zambia where he received his BSc and MSc in Chemistry from the University of Zambia. He earned his PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Purdue University in Indiana, USA. Anthony joined the faculty at Trinity Western University in 2007 from the University of Botswana and is currently the Chair of the Biology Department. He is a Professor of Biology and teaches first year Biology, Microbiology and Biochemistry at TWU. In addition to teaching, Anthony has been actively involved in research and has supervised several graduate students. He has published papers on the interaction between parasitic plants and crops, fungi and mycotoxins in grains and nuts, and cyanotoxins in wastewater. Most recently, his work has focused on the role of cyanobacteria in reducing nutrients in the environment and on the use of Bioinformatics to predict proteins effectors in bacteria. Anthony is married to Judy and they are proud parents of three grown children, Niza, Natasha and Chipo.
RSVP: Shelby Muhic (firstname.lastname@example.org)
by November 28, 2016