Monthly Archives: September 2017

Biotechnology and genetic modification 40 years on and the rise of gene editing

Wednesday 11 October at 6.00pm

National Aquarium, Marine Parade, Napier

(Entry by gold coin donation)

Dr Elspeth MacRae, General Manager Manufacturing & Bloproducts, Scion

 

People have been improving plants and animals for many centuries. Most of the foods we eat and drink have been changed (domesticated) by humans. For many centuries this was done by selecting naturally occurring changes (or mutations) and using them to breed improved plants or animals – a very slow process. More recently we have been able to use biotechnology to make the same sort of changes in a much faster and more predictable way.

This talk will describe these Genetic Modification technologies, including the recent developments in gene editing (CRISPR-cas9). Examples of improved products will be highlighted, and the potential of gene editing to revolutionise food production will be discussed.

Dr Elspeth MacRae is the General Manager Manufacturing & Bioproducts at Scion in Rotorua. She is a member of the management group for the 2014 New Zealand National Science Challenge in Science and Technology for Industry, and leads the design, materials and manufacturing portfolio.

Scion is a Crown Research Institute that specialises in research, science and technology development for the forestry, wood product, wood-derived materials, and other biomaterial sectors.

Tectonics and genetics in topographic evolution

14 September 2017 at 7.30pm

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, corner of Dalton and Vautier Streets, Napier


Dave Craw

Professor, Geology Department, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

2017 Hochstetter Lecture

The landscape of New Zealand is spectacular in its expression of the active tectonic processes that occur along the Pacific-Australian plate boundary. However, it is difficult to determine the geological history of development of the onshore topography because previous configurations in the evolution of that topography have been eroded.

Some of the native fauna carry a biological memory of the topographic environments in which they evolved, in their genetic makeup (DNA). Native freshwater fish are the most useful for this type of study. In particular, the genus Galaxias has numerous freshwater-limited species and populations that have been isolated by changes in the river drainage pattern.

The South Island vividly displays the resultant biological diversity and co-evolution of topography and fish. The genetic variations of the fish can be used to document the nature and timing of river capture events and mountain range growth, especially since the Plio-Pleistocene but with some extensions into the Miocene. Hence, these biological tools provide some new insights into the development of the onshore landscape since the submergence or near- submergence of the NZ landmass in the Oligocene. The biological memory approach to understanding topographic evolution could be extended to all endemic NZ fauna and flora for which suitable distribution and genetic data are available.

Dave Craw is Professor of Economic Geology at the University of Otago where he has been on staff for 35 years. His main research interests are gold: exploration, mining and associated environmental issues, both placer and hard-rock. His particular interests in tectonic evolution of mountains and the gold within them led him to work on the biological effects of the rise of mountain ranges, the topic of the Hochstetter lecture.