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Banks Memorial Lecture: Ornamental Plant Breeding

Banks Memorial Lecture: Ornamental Plant Breeding

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  • Wed 13 Apr ’16, 7:00pm – 8:00pm


DoubleTree by Hilton Chateau on the Park, 189 Deans Ave, Riccarton, Christchurch


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission

Free public lecture: Cytogenetics and ornamental plant breeding: an ongoing partnership

By Prof Brian Murray

The Banks Memorial Lecture is a free lecture open to the public. It commemorates Sir Joseph Banks, botanist on Captain Cook's first voyage to New Zealand. During a later distinguished scientific career, he was Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London.

Successful plant breeding requires the development of new gene combinations (genotypes) that give rise to novel characters and new varieties that can then be tested in the marketplace.

Hybridisation between crop and wild relative(s) can provide such variation but much depends on the ease of crossing the species and to an extent their genetic and chromosomal similarity. Knowledge of chromosome number, structure and behaviour is therefore a key component of these breeding programmes that aim to widen the gene pool of existing crops.

Examples taken from a variety of ornamentals such as dahlia, sweet pea, clivia and pinks will be used to illustrate this important component of cultivar development.

Prof Brian Murray was born in Trinidad and educated at Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain. He travelled to the UK to study at the University of Reading, and majored in Botany with subsidiary Zoology. After graduating, Brian went on to undertake a PhD in plant genetics, specifically chromosome evolution and breeding systems in the grass genus Briza. He was then appointed as a lecturer in the Department of Botany and Biochemistry, Westfield College, University of London, where he was involved in the teaching of genetics and undertaking research, together with several PhD students in the general area of population cytogenetics.

In 1984 he moved to New Zealand to take up an appointment as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Botany (subsequently the School of Biological Sciences) at the University of Auckland. One major consequence of moving to Auckland was a shift in research focus as there were excellent opportunities for collaborative research in plant breeding of ornamental plants. These studies, together with investigating cytogenetics of New Zealand native plants (many with a conservation focus), have been the basis of a successful research programme that has involved about 40 graduate students over the years.

Brian Murray has published, together with his collaborators, about 180 refereed scientific publications and has edited the ‘Encyclopedia of Applied Plant Science’ that is now about to appear as an updated second edition in September 2016.

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