International conference at UGA to focus on weeds

International conference at University of Georgia to focus on weeds

Athens, Ga. – Weeds. We often speak the word with a grimace, thinking of knotty lawn problems or unwanted species that cost farmers billions in control every year. And yet weeds also have much to teach about how plants can adapt to changing environments imposed on them through human influence.

That’s why the University of Georgia will host an international conference in September called “Agricultural Weeds: Bridging the Gap between Evolutionary Ecology and Crop Science.” The event will bring together applied scientists and evolutionary ecologists to discuss how weeds become problematic to farmers, and how researchers from a range of disciplines can begin to address a common ground for tackling the problems that weeds pose to the nation’s food supply.

“The goal is to promote integrative thinking about the process of weed domestication to agriculture and the evolution of ‘weediness,'” said Regina Baucom a postdoctoral researcher in the department of genetics and co-organizer of the conference.

Other organizers, also in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, include John Burke and Shu-Mei Chang in the department of plant biology, and William Vencill of the department of crop and soil sciences in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. This conference will be small and highly interactive, with around 50 people expected.

The conference will be held Sept. 11-13 in the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. Keynote speakers will be Jonathan Gressel, emeritus professor of plant sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and Jodie Holt, professor in the department of botany and plant sciences at the University of California, Riverside.

Topics in the conference will include evolutionary ecology of weed species, weed adaptation to the agricultural system, transgene movement from crops to wild species, parasitic weeds, weed shifts and weedy species of special interest. Some 17 speakers will be present for the event, and there will also be poster sessions. Speakers will include representatives from other universities, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and industry.

For more information on the conference, see www.plantbio.uga.edu/weeds. The conference is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the departments of plant biology and crop and soil sciences at UGA.