Shaping the Science of Tomorrow

Pamela Ronald

Founding Director of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy

University of California, Davis

Pamela Ronald, is a Distinguished Professor, in the Dept. of Plant Pathology and the Genome Center, and Founding Director of the Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at the University of California, Davis. She also serves as a Key Scientist at the Joint Bioenergy Institute in Emeryville, CA.

Ronald studies rice genes that control resistance to disease and tolerance to environmental stress. Ronald and colleagues received the 2008 USDA National Research Initiative Discovery Award and the 2012 Tech Award for innovative use of technology to benefit humanity. In 2011, Ronald was selected as one of the 100 most creative people in business by Fast Company Magazine. She is the recipient of the 2012 Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Association of Science Writers Science in Society Journalism Award, and the Fulbright-Tocqueville Distinguished Chair Award.

In 2014 she was named one of the world’s most influential scientific minds by Thomson Reuters, in 2015 was selected by Scientific American as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in biotechnology and in 2016 was named one of the 50 innovators and visionaries who will lead us toward a more sustainable future by Grist magazine. She is co-author, with her husband, Raoul Adamchak, an organic farmer, of Tomorrow’s Table: Organic Farming, Genetics, and the Future of Food. Bill Gates calls the book “ a fantastic piece of work” and “important for anyone that wants to learn about the science of seeds and challenges faced by farmers. In 2012, Tomorrow’s Table was selected by The New Earth Archive as one of the 25 most powerful and influential books with the power to inspire college readers to change the world. Her 2015 TED talk has been viewed by more than 1.7 million people and translated into 26 languages.

More about Pamela Ronald

Abstract

Engineering crops for resistance to disease and tolerance to environmental stress

A major goal for food and agricultural research is to increase the resiliency of agricultural systems to adapt to rapid changes and extreme conditions. Prof. Ronald will describe how genetic approaches are being used to generate the next generation of crops that will help farmers thrive in these challenging conditions.

Her laboratory at UC Davis studies genes that control resistance to disease and tolerance of environmental stress. Together with her collaborators, she has engineered rice for resistance to disease and tolerance to flooding. Ronald will describe isolation of a rice immune receptor, its similarity to animal immune receptors and the microbial molecule that binds to and activates the rice immune receptor. She will describe isolation of the Sub1A gene and the development of a flood tolerant rice variety (known as ‘Sub1’ rice) produced by the International Rice Research Institute that was cultivated by over six million farmers in India and Bangladesh in 2017. Under submerged conditions, these ‘Sub1’ varieties have enhanced yield and can prevent total crop failure.

Media release: Helping plants to fight the food war