Monogram 2018 Report: Ben Sibbett

Ben Sibbett University of Southampton

Attending Monogram 2018 gave me a fantastic insight into the broad range of high quality research that is being conducted in the small grains community. As a PhD student, working on a specific project, it can become easy to neglect research that is outside of your primary focus. In addition, it is easy to lose sight of how your own research fits into the bigger picture and how important it is to understand how your own research can be applied.

Related to applied research, I particularly enjoyed the talk given by the plenary speaker Professor Scott Haley. Professor Haley described how his group is using genomics and bioinformatics to improve wheat varieties for farmers. He touched upon the challenges of working with farmers that are responsible for thousands of hectares of farmland and the enjoyment he has had developing a relationship between scientists and farmers.

Another aspect of Monogram 2018 that I found interesting was the opportunity to learn about how technology and the tools now available to scientists working with crop species have developed. This includes how the latest wheat genome reference is being used to assist research.

Furthermore, learning about the progress that has been made in gene editing at NIAB in rice, wheat and barley was exciting. In addition to gene editing, it was fascinating to find out how the TILLING populations in wheat are now being used widely by researchers. I have used this technology in my own research so it was interesting to see how other groups have taken advantage of this resource.

Ben gives a Flash talk at Monogram 2018

Of real interest was the talk given by James Simmonds from the Uauy lab. He discussed how the generation of double and triple mutants were allowing their group to test hypotheses. He also briefly discussed the notion of speed breeding to reduce the time taken to generate these mutants which could be helpful for my own research.

Attending Monogram also gave me the opportunity to see how other PhD students were getting along in their own projects. With the support of GARNet, I presented a poster at Monogram 2017 in Bristol. This year enabled me to talk to students I had met in Bristol and discuss the progress that had been made in our respective work. I truly enjoyed the MonoGram 2018 meeting and I am extremely grateful for the support of GARNet that has allowed me to attend.

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