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gateway ■ WMIIIStSttWiMNUNf.U ■ Volume 103, Issue 19 

New strain of barley could 
grow in drought conditions 


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Thursday, Jan. 31,7:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. 
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news briefs 

COMPILES BY April Hudson 

Philippe de Montigny 


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 


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 
been charged. 

"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 

water-use efficiency. 

"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 
salvages water. 

"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," 
Eerkes said. 

“In terms of 
everything that’s going 
on, we are not in the 
know, because (Martin) 
has not been able to tell 
us anything.” 


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," 
Anyia explained. 

“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 
become poor." 

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. 
Council knows." 

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 
increase, with nine abstentions and 
zero against. 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- 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 
medical doctor. 

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