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gateway ■ WMIIIStSttWiMNUNf.U ■ Volume 103, Issue 19
New strain of barley could
grow in drought conditions
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Philippe de Montigny
NEWS WRITER ■@MPDEMOHTI
Beer buffs and barley breeders may
rejoice now that University of Al¬
berta scientists liave pinpointed a
gene that could allow barley to grow
using less water.
Driven by the drought that hit
Canada's prairie regions in 2002
and cut Alberta's average crop yield
in half, researcher Anthony Anyia
of Alberta Innovates — Technol¬
ogy Futures and soil scientist Scott
Chang were determined to find seg¬
ments in the genetic makeup of bar¬
ley called molecular markers, which
control its water efficiency.
"Our goal was to produce more
grains per drop of water — that is,
to maximize crop productivity, giv¬
en (a) limited water supply," Chang
"This particular work is really to
try to develop a tool that will help
barley breeders select the genotypes
that use water more efficiently."
While similar research was also
conducted on other major crops
including wheat, oats and flax fi¬
bres, Anyia and Chang decided in
2005 to focus on barley, given its
importance in Alberta agriculture.
Used for malt beer and livestock
fodder, this Canadian staple is the
third most widely-grown crop in the
Prairies, after wheat and canola.
Anyia likened the research to
an iPhone application. Much like
choosing an app on a smartphone,
specific traits are also targeted in
the breeding process to generate
new varieties of barley.
“Maybe this is the GPS, so that it
can help navigate more water that is
available for it to grow,” Anyia said.
"You can put in the water efficien¬
cy trait, disease resistance ... those
are all 'applications' that you need
to combine so that the plant is able
to function in the environment in
which you want it to function.”
To pinpoint the precise location
of the desired genes, Chang, Any¬
ia and their former PhD student,
Jing Chen, tested a long-standing
theory which suggested plants'
discrimination against heavier car¬
bon isotopes is correlated to their
LISTER -CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
She added decisions are made on
a case-by-case basis to protect the
integrity of the unviersity's pro¬
cesses, but that it’s extremely un¬
likely a student would be forbidden
from even revealing the fact they've
"I don't know that anyone would
ever be prohibited," she said. “Again,
1 don’t know the circumstances, so
it would be really hard to comment
on that, but typically, no."
Once evidence is compiled and a
case is built. Eerkes said the accused
party is brought in for a meeting.
“That group, or student or who¬
ever it is, has the opportunity to
respond to the evidence, to provide
other documentation, if there's
something about that evidence that
stands out as either incorrect or in¬
complete, that student group can
say so. And then the Discipline Offi¬
cer does further investigation," she
"All of our decisions are ap¬
pealable, and everything else, the
"In drought conditions, the sto¬
mata on the leaves tend to close,"
explained Chang, referring to the
microscopic pores on plant leaves
responsible for the exchange of gas¬
es. These pores seal up in dry envi¬
ronments, preventing excess water
loss — a natural reaction to thwart
the exchange of carbon dioxide
necessary for photosynthesis.
During photosynthesis, plants
usually “discriminate" in favour
of CO2 containing the lighter iso¬
tope, Carbon-12. However, when
moisture is scarce, plants rely more
heavily on Carbon-13. During their
research, the team discovered that
for barley, these differences in iso¬
topic discrimination are highly
correlated with how well the plant
"Every time, there was a re¬
ally good relationship between
stable isotope discrimination and
water-use efficiency," Chang said.
Conventially. selecting genotypes
with water-efficient characteristics
is a long, costly process involving
growing plants over a few genera¬
tions, quantifying grain production
process is pretty much the same. Ev¬
eryone has a right to hear the case
against them, to provide some sort
of information or defense, bring
an advisor, all of those things,"
“In terms of
everything that’s going
on, we are not in the
know, because (Martin)
has not been able to tell
STUKHI5' UNION VlCt-MtSlKMT SWOfffT iff Q
When asked for comment. SU
Vice-President (Student Life) Saadiq
Sumar said Martin was the best
person to comment on the matter.
“In terms of everything that's go¬
ing on, we are not in the know, be¬
cause (Martin) has not been able to
tell us anything," he said.
and budgeting water and biomass
with specialized tools. That process
currently takes between 10 and 15
However, in this study, Anyia and
Chang identified molecularmarkers
which, once refined and validated,
can be used in breeding programs to
fast-track the barley genotypes less
dependent on water, and therefore
better fit the Prairies' climate.
“You definitely want a plant that
is smart — that knows when to open
and when to close its stomata,"
“It is possible with this tool to
design a strain that performs really
well when moisture is sufficient,
and the traits of water-use efficien¬
cy only kick in when conditions
Molecular marker refinement
could take two or three years, once
funding is in place, and the re¬
searchers are hoping public interest
will help secure funds for the next
stage of development.
"We want to be able to show that
this is something that is going to
be stable, repeated and that can be
reliably used," Anyia said.
“Everything that we know.
When asked during the in cam¬
era session why the SU isn't going
through the ombudservice, Sumar
told councillors he believes they
have exhausted all other avenues of
“The reason why I believe the om¬
budservice would not do anyone
justice, really, is that we believe the
system itself the Code itself is not
written in a manner that is good for
students," he said.
A statement from the U of A said
it would be inappropriate for the
university to comment on the pro¬
ceeds of an in camera meeting, and
that the university does not disclose
particulars of discipline cases.
"Respecting the due process rights
of students and student groups, as
well as ensuring the integrity of the
discipline process, is of the utmost
importance," the statement read.
Council voted to pass the Sio.ooo
increase, with nine abstentions and
UofAEscalator.com informs students
Students frustrated by the seem¬
ingly endless out-of-service esca¬
lators at the University of Alberta
now have a new website they can
reference when wondering which
ones are running and which are
down for maintenance.
The newly created UofAEscal-
ator.com page, linked directly to
an @UofAEscalator Twitter acc¬
ount, offers nearly up-to-the
minute updates on the status of
the U of A’s escalators.
Professor named city’s new top doctor
A new medical director was
appointed last week for the
Edmonton zone, after interim top
doctor Tom Noseworthy returned
to his job as associate chief
David Mador, a professor at the
University of Alberta, will begin
his term as the city region's top
doctor on April l. 2013.
This decision comes as the
result of a "thorough and robust"
national search for a replacement,
accordi ng to an information memo
distributed by Alberta Health
Servicesto all AHS Practitioners.
"Dr. Mador has been practicing
full-time as a urologic surgeon
in Edmonton, while maintaining
his status as an Associate Clinical
Professor in the Department
of Surgery at the University of
Alberta and has been the recipient
of several medical student and res¬
ident teaching awards," the memo
Mador has nearly 30 years of
clinical experience, and has held
numerous leadership positions in
the past within the former Capital
Health Authority, including Chief
of Surgery and later Medical
Director of the Royal Alexandra
U of A business school in global top 100
The Alberta School of Business
received worldwide recognition
this week when it appeared in the
2013 Financial Times of London's
list of the top 100 business schools
in the world.
Including privately and publicly
funded institutions, the school
ranked 33rd globally for research,
Tistfor its PhD program, and sits in
100th place for its MBA.
Placed alongside other Canadian
schools including the U ofT, McGill
and York, the Alberta School of
Business also shares this list with
prestigious institutions such as
the London Business School and
the Harvard Business School.
Confidential meeting addresses charges
against LHSA, sparks legal fees increase