Call edition 2012
A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.
Colombia is – on a global scale – the second largest exporter of cut flowers, which creates 150.000 jobs each year. The carnation occupies pride of place in this trade, but its production is threatened by a pathogenic fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. dianthi. Carlos Chacón is a young Colombian industrial microbiologist. In his work, ‘Molecular and biochemical characterization of an α-L-Arabinofuranosidase B from Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. dianthi race 2’, he examined a gene that could play a very important role in the pathogenicity of the fungus. In an extremely rigorous scientific study, Carlos Chacón cloned the gene of this cellulose-degrading enzyme, used genetic engineering to express it in proteic form, and started the characterization of its enzymatic activity. This work is of particular interest in the context of development. Firstly, it is linked directly to an economic problem, and could serve as a basis for improvement in the control of horticultural infections. Secondly, the enzyme produced by genetic engineering could serve in industrial applications requiring the digestion of cellulose, such as composting, baking, oenology, etc. Finally, the skills demonstrated during this work could be used in a general way in the bio-technological sector, be it the food or the pharmaceutical industry. In this context, Carlos Chacón’s work amply deserves to be crowned with the Development Cooperation Prize.
report by Prof. Dr. J.-C. Dujardin, Department of Parasitology, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium