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Biological Sciences’ Malcomber to Present “Feeding the World”

Published: November 16, 2009

Three grass species alone—rice, maize and wheat—account for more than 50 percent of the calories consumed by humans every day, yet growing enough of these crops to feed the world’s population remains a challenge.

Research by Simon Malcomber, assistant professor of biological sciences at CSULB, is providing a number of different opportunities to improve plants for food and biofuels. He will discuss his work during a presentation on “Feeding the World” at the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM) Fellows Colloquium and Dean’s Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18, in the CSULB Pyramid Annex conference room.

“The last green revolution was fueled by improvements in irrigation, fertilizer, pesticides and plant breeding, but the second green revolution will have to draw on our ever-expanding knowledge of plant genetics,” said Malcomber. “With the global human population expected to increase by a billion in the next 15 years, and with water and space becoming increasingly limited, a better understanding of how genes regulate plant growth and grain production is essential for a sustainable future.”

Malcomber received his doctorate in evolutionary and population biology from Washington University in St. Louis. He uses a variety of evolutionary, molecular, morphological and developmental techniques to investigate the form and structure of grasses, including cereal crops.

In collaboration with researchers at Penn State and UC San Diego, he was recently awarded a five-year, $4.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate how plant genes regulate auxin, a hormone involved in all aspects of plant growth that plays an essential role in flower cluster branching and flower production that are both directly correlated with crop yield.

Malcomber
Photo courtesy of Simon Malcomber
Simon Malcomber

The colloquium and dean’s breakfast is free to members of the CNSM Fellows—the college’s premier support group—as well as CNSM students, and $25 for non-members. For reservations and to learn more about this and upcoming colloquia, visit www.beach-chemistry.com or contact Nicole Algarin-Chavarria at 562/985-7446.

–Anne Ambrose