Biology Talk by Dr. Yasuo Yasui, February 5, 2020.
On February 5, 2020, Dr. Yasuo Yasui, a plant geneticist from Kyoto University, gave a talk on his research on buckwheat (=soba) genetics. First, he explained how the current food supply of the world is heavily dependent on a very small number of plants, and that there is a pressing need to increase the yield of many other non-major crops, including buckwheat. He argued that now we have the tools to tackle this problem thanks to the advance in genome sequencing technologies, and that data science, computer science, and mathematical science have important roles to play. He then presented his previous research on buckwheat genetics and genomics, such as the identification of certain genes in buckwheat that are important for buckwheat breeding. He also showed some slides from field trips in South China (mainly Yunnan province) to collect wild buckwheat species, and explained his ongoing research in trying to understand the origin and domestication process of buckwheat, which is a joint effort with Jeffrey Fawcett from iTHEMS, and other researchers in Japan, China, and the UK. The talk was aimed at non-biologists, and many non-biologists from iTHEMS were able to join and ask many questions.