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APEC-Australia Women in Research
Fellowship 2023
Dr Malona Velasco Alinsug
Malona Velasco Alinsug.jpg

Home Economy: The Philippines

Host Institution: State Agricultural Biotechnology Center at Murdoch University


Project Title: Comparative Analysis of Adlay Mutants and Multi-Genome Sequencing of Adlay Varieties in the Philippines



Project Outline: This research program aims to conduct Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) of adlay mutant varieties and local adlay varieties in the Philippines to identify specific mutations associated with desirable traits and determine varietal differences. Adlay (Coix lacryma-jobi L.) is an important cereal crop in the Philippines with significant potential for improved productivity and agricultural sustainability through mutation breeding. This research will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Varshney, Director of the State Agricultural Biotechnology Center at Murdoch University, Australia.

Reasons for applying for fellowship: I applied for this Fellowship due to the remarkable opportunities it offers. This Fellowship provides me the chance to be mentored by Dr. Varshney, a renowned expert in AgriGenomics. Second is access to cutting-edge facilities. With this Fellowship, I can conduct whole genome sequencing of Philippine adlay varieties at Dr. Varshney's advanced laboratory, equipped with state-of-the-art technology in plant genomics which are not available in the Philippines. Another reason is to accelerate adlay mutation breeding program of PNRI. Obtaining the adlay genome sequence is critical in identifying mutations in adlay mutants which could take years, whereas the Fellowship can expedite this process. Another reason is international collaboration. The Fellowship would foster collaboration with esteemed experts, particularly Dr. Varshney, opening doors to international partnerships that hold immense potential for advancing our research efforts. This opportunity not only aligns with my research goals but also addresses significant challenges faced by the Philippines in the realm of plant genomics. The Fellowship has the potential to revolutionize our research approach and significantly accelerate the progress of plant mutation breeding in the Philippines.

Past Achievements: Just recently, we have invented a software/program for phenotype assessment for plant mutation breeding (patent pending). We are currently developing this as a phone app for ease of access to fellow scientists, researchers, & students. As my specialty is in epigenetics, I have functionally characterized the roles of Class II histone deactylases, specifically HDA15 and HDA2, in light signaling and the versatile functions of plant Class II HDAs as it shuttles in and out of the nucleus. I have also pioneered studies in radiation epigenetics elucidating the role of ionizing radiation in activating epigenetic proteins in plants.

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