June 26, 2023
Dr Ravigadevi Sambanthamurthi, the Former Director of Advanced Biotechnology and Breeding Centre at the Malaysia Palm Oil Board, or MPOB. She led the MPOB Oil Palm Genome Project, decoding the oil palm genome and discovering economically and environmentally important genes. She has published extensively, including in Nature, and holds numerous patents. Her innovative solutions to environmental challenges have earned her prestigious honours and awards. The presentation will discuss the global significance of oil palm in meeting food and fuel demand. Despite deforestation concerns, the oil palm remains the most productive oil crop, supporting economic development and alleviating poverty, especially among smallholders. Exploring the oil palm genome has led to groundbreaking discoveries, improving yield and addressing environmental issues. These breakthroughs were published in Nature, validating their importance. One key finding is the SHELL gene, controlling oil yield. Planting DNA-tested seeds or seedlings with this gene can optimise land use, generate significant economic gains, and increase productivity.