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IAPB presents 'living fossil' Wollemia Pine to UCC

20 Dec 2018
At the planting of a Wollemia Pine to mark the end of the UCC presidency of the International Association for Plant Biotechnology, were (left to right) UCC Head Gardener Jack Murphy, Dr Barbara Doyle Prestwich, President of the IAPB and Dr Eoin Lettice, Treasurer of the IAPB.

Dr Barbara Doyle Prestwich and Dr Eoin Lettice presented a Wollemia Pine specimen to University College Cork this week to mark the culmination of their leadership of the International Association for Plant Biotechnology (IAPB).

The tree, planted on UCC's main campus, joins many other specimen trees in UCC's botanical collection - dating from the 1840s and a 'living laboratory' at the heart of the City and University. Wollemia nobilis, a native of Australia, is often described as a 'living fossil' having been discovered only in 1994. Prior to that, the tree was only known in the fossil record - up to 200 million years ago. The specimen planted at UCC is part of an international effort to conserve this critically-endangered species by propagating from the 100 or so plants known to exist in the wild using plant tissue culture.

"Wollemia nobilis is one of the rarest plants on earth and the story of its rediscovery and preservation using plant tissue culture - itself a form of plant biotechnology - is a fascinating one. We're delighted to mark the successful stewardship of the IAPB and the hosting of the IAPB Congress in Ireland this year by planting this iconic species amongst UCC's historic botanical collection", said Dr Eoin Lettice, Treasurer of the IAPB.


Outgoing President of the IAPB, Dr Barbara Doyle Prestwich was keen to ensure that the association left an enduring legacy at UCC. "The IAPB Congress held this year in Ireland and hosted by UCC attracted leading scientists from over 50 countries to discuss and present the latest findings in the area of plant biotechnology. This was a UCC-led event and for the last four years the IAPB has been hosted at UCC in the School of BEES. As we prepare to hand over the reigns to our colleagues in South Korea, we thought it appropriate to mark the occasion by planting this amazing tree in the beautiful surrounds of our campus".

The IAPB is the largest international professional organisation representing the interests of the world-wide plant biotechnology community and was founded in 1963. IAPB 2018 was held in August this year and featured a range of high profile speakers including Nobel Laureate Prof. Ada Yonath; Prof. Roger Beachy - a scientific advisor to President Obama; and Michelle Miller, aka "Farm Babe".

Ireland held the presidency of the IAPB from 2014-2018 and a vote at IAPB 2018 meant that the next term of office 2018-2022 will be held by South Korea.

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences

An Scoil Eolaíochtaí Bitheolaíocha, Domhaneolaíocha agus Comhshaoil

University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, Ireland T23 N73K

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