Student funded for cereal leaf beetle research – for Sep. 13, 2010

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Swaroop Kher of the University of Alberta is one of four students receiving this year’s funding from the Canadian Wheat Board’s postgraduate awards program.

Kher is researching the cereal leaf beetle, which was first found on the Prairies in 2005 in Alberta. This project seeks to understand the beetle’s current status, predict future expansion, and devise sustainable strategies to control the pest. Exploration of strategies will focus on biological control, such as the release of natural enemies.

Other recipients are: Marija Pavleska, University of Saskatchewan, who is exploring ways in which genetically modified wheat can co-exist with traditional wheat. She takes the position that genetically modified wheat is likely to be successfully marketed only if there is a way to guarantee that it remains completely separate from traditional wheat.

Chami Amarasinghe of the University of Manitoba is examining new strains of fusarium that appear to produce higher levels of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON). In particular, she is trying to uncover the genetic basis of the shift, and to explore how the new strains affect wheat plants. In addition, the University of Manitoba student will investigate whether fungicides impact DON production.

Xiaoyu Liu of the University of Saskatchewan is trying to answer how rapidly increasing urbanization in China can affect China’s demand for food and its ability to produce food. China’s fast-paced urbanization is creating tremendous growth in off-farm employment, and this could affect production capabilities.

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