ASIAN SEED − 25 Cucurbits Calling sian Cucurbits Round Table Plans set for Maiden Asian Cucurbits Round Table in Bangkok PSA, in collaboration with Kasetsart University (KU), looks forward to hosting the maiden Asian Cucurbit Round Table (ACRT), which will take place in Bangkok 19 – 21 July. To be held at the Vajiranusorn Building, Kasetsart University (Bangkhen Campus) with technical sessions on the first two days, the ACRT will conclude with a field visit to the World Vegetable Centre’s Tropical Research Station at KU’s Kamphaeng Saen campus on the third and final day. The focus of the event will be on key commercial cucurbit crops, which include watermelon, melon, bitter gourd and cucumber; though discourse will also apply to other commercially important curcurbits such as pumpkin, squash and zucchini. ACRT will serve as the ideal research forum, featuring presentations from accomplished, expert keynote speakers, in addition to a panel discussion led by representatives from research institutes, universities and seed companies. Discussions will focus on topics spanning Cucurbit diseases, quality management and diagnostic assays, advanced breeding technology, country market updates and challenges in Asia. The meeting will also explore potential collaborations between the private and public sectors. In anticipation of the event, Asian Seed reached out to the ACRT organizing committee and one of the keynote speakers of the event to find out the significance of cucurbits in Asia, and what we might expect from the maiden ACRT. Dr. Annadana Seetharam, co-chair of APSA’s R&D Working Group, and representative from the ACRT Organizing Committee elaborated on why APSA decided to organize this event: “Asia is one of the regions where a variety of cucurbits are bred, grown and consumed. There are fruits, salad vegetables, Nutraceuticals and cooked vegetables in this range. There is also a specialty market for cucurbit seed consumption in many markets in and outside Asia,” he said. Dr Seetharam, who is Technology Lead For APAC Veg R&D, Syngenta, and has a PhD in plant molecular Biology From Wageningen University, has been closely associated with DH (double haploid) production for Cucumbers in APAC to support breeding programs, and closely oversees various resistance programs for viral and fungal pathogens. Asked what he thought should be the main focus for cucurbit research in the region, Dr. Seetharam identified several priority areas; namely, disease resistance to key pathogens, developing seedless watermelon and working on the flowering biology of cucurbits. “There is now a real need to manage seed-borne pathogens and seed health in cucurbits for the future viability of cucurbit breeding companies. “At the ACRT, some of the most significant topics will be discussed by key people working on important market traits. It is a great opportunity to share, learn and generate ideas for future R&D.This is also a forum where interesting public-private partnerships are developed relevant to the industry. Companies having an interest to further grow the opportunities in cucurbits in Asia, must consider participation in this maiden event.” Dr. Narinder Dhillon, who leads the Global Cucurbit Breeding Program of the World Vegetable Center in Thailand, has been excitedly preparing trials that will be showcased at the event. During a recent inspection of the proposed field trials, an APSA delegation sat down with Dr. Dhillon whose passion for cucurbits is contagious. “Among the cucurbits, melon, “There is now a real need to manage seed borne pathogens and seed health in cucurbits for the future viability of cucurbit breeding companies.” – Dr. A. Seetharam A APSA Secretariat staff confirmed plans with Kasetsart University during a meeting in March.