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Perspectives on PAG Asia 2013

Cindy Lawley
| Mar 19, 2013

I am delighted to blog from the exciting PAG Asia meeting in Singapore. If you can't be here this year, check out the hashtag #PAGASIA13 for the latest news. What a fabulous meeting it has been, with a gathering of scientists of many disciplines from all over the world. The venue has also been top notch- accomodations and food that exceeded my expectations. I even found time to make it out to the wet market Tiong Bahru today, where this California girl felt right at home among the gorgeous produce, fresh fish, and beautiful cut flowers. Singapore market

The PAG Asia meeting has been compact and stimulating. Some of my big take homes from this meeting are the importance of rice to the human condition, and the role of collaborations to advancing science. There are huge lessons to be learned from wheat as well, and these are being transferred to other crops. Many discussions have focused on exotic species, orphan crops with small markets, and phylogenetic analysis for the purposes of advancing evolutionary hypotheses. A lot of sequencing on this side of the world is being done through BGI and collaborating institutions, with lots of images of Nature covers bandied about. 

Great discussions around the consortia developed via thought leaders and in collaboration with GeneSeek, DNA Landmarks, and TraitGenetics. You can find a genotyping tool for almost any important crop or livestock using Illumina technology. It has been rewarding to see this portfolio grow, but even better to see advances that have been made possible using tools for QTL, GWAS analyses, and selection on the whole genome. 

There was a relatively controversial discussion here regarding the drive to digitize biological information for the future of selective breeding based upon sequence data. The topic was part of the discussion by Wang Jun presenting from BGI, and it definitely stimulated discussion on the topic. Many people weighed in on the importance of phenotyping for knowing the utility of the sequence information that can now be amassed at such a grand scale. Questions in my mind include:

  • What is the right balance between phenotyping and genotyping, and how does this evolve as we uncover more about a genome, its assembly, its transcriptome, and alternative splicing?

  • How do we best overlay lessons from functional genomics so that they are accessible and informative?

Your comments to this blog post are welcome, as I find this a stimulating discussion.

Overall, I am thrilled to be a part of the charter assembly here at PAG Asia. I'm already looking forward to #PAGASIA14. Don’t miss it!