University of Saskatchewan

April 16, 2014   

U of S Crop Development Scientist Recognized with 2010 New Researcher Award

Dr. Curtis Pozniak
October 21, 2010

University of Saskatchewan plant sciences researcher Curtis Pozniak, a Canadian leader in molecular genetics of wheat, is the recipient of the 2010 New Researcher Award to be presented at the Oct. 23 convocation.

“Since earning his PhD at the U of S in 2003, Pozniak has gained a reputation in Canada and around the world as a rising star in the area of plant genetics and breeding,” said U of S vice-president research Karen Chad.

“We are so fortunate to have an exceptional researcher like him at the U of S. I have no doubt Prof. Pozniak’s work will have a significant impact on the future of crop development science and will make positive contributions toward improving global food security.”

His work links basic research into the genetics and expression of disease resistance and end use quality traits with his applied research in the development of durum and other classes of wheat cultivars (strains) for Western Canada. Canada is one of the world’s major producers of durum wheat, but in order to be approved for international markets, new cultivars must meet a variety of strict quality criteria. In 2008, Pozniak released the cultivar CDC Verona, the first new durum cultivar from the U of S to pass this rigorous assessment in 18 years.

He and his graduate students have developed DNA markers which are used in crop improvement programs globally.

He has incorporated gene marker-assisted selection into his program at the U of S Crop Development Centre (CDC). The technique uses DNA markers that are tightly linked to genes to screen for specific traits critical to end-use quality, such as pigment, disease resistance and cadmium concentration.

“This technology has improved to the point where it is increasingly feasible for plant breeders to select only those plants that carry the most useful genes for traits like disease resistance and end-use quality,” said Pozniak.

His program is now regularly screening molecular markers for these end-use quality traits.

“As DNA sequencing technology continues to improve, more DNA markers will become available for routine use in our plant breeding programs,” he said.

In 2008, Pozniak won the Best Research Poster Presentation at the International Durum Wheat Symposium and, more recently, he was granted the Young Agronomists Award by the Canadian Society of Agronomy in recognition of his outstanding contributions to that field.

Information about the award and past recipients is available at: http://www.usask.ca/research/about/distinguished_research_award.php

The internationally recognized CDC has released nearly 300 commercial crop varieties since it began its work in 1971. More information is available at: http://agbio.usask.ca/

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Michael Robin
U of S Research Communications
(306) 966-1425

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