April 6-7, 2017 | Lincoln, Nebraska
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2017 NRIC speakers
portrait of Pat Schnable


Dr. Patrick Schnable
Iowa State University
Plenary Talk: Challenges facing crop production and potential solutions
8:30 - 9:10 am, Thursday 6 April 2017

Phenylpropanoid metabolism is the best understood pathway of specialised metabolism in plants, probably because the core pathways are widely distributed; for example, monolignol biosynthesis in ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms, flavonoid metabolism in bryophytes, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms. Some specialised polyphenols have therapeutic properties and preparations of plants that produce them have been used widely as traditional medicines. Foods, particularly fruit and vegetables, are important sources of polyphenol phytonutrients that promote health. Because these compounds are not essential for life, they have been disregarded by many nutritional and biofortification programmes. However, the recognition of their importance in the diet is essential to meeting the objectives of food and nutritional security as defined by the FAO. By engineering phenylpropanoid metabolism we have been able to enrich tomato fruit with different phenylpropanoid compounds allowing us to compare the relative effects of different polyphenols on cardiovascular disease.


Pat Schnable is a distinguished professor at Iowa State University where he holds an endowed chair and directs the Plant Sciences Institute that is fostering collaborations among plant scientists, engineers and computational scientists. He is also a ChangJiang Scholar Professor at China Agriculture University. Schnable received his BS in Agronomy from Cornell University and his PhD in Plant Breeding and Cytogenetics from Iowa State University; he conducted post-doctoral research in Molecular Genetics at the Max Planck Institute in Köln, Germany.

His wide-ranging investigations of the maize genome have resulted in >120 peer-reviewed publications and an h-index of 63. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, serves as a consulting editor for PLoS Genetics (Impact Factor 8.7), is a past chair of the American Society of Plant Biology’s Science Policy Committee, and is a past chair and current member of the Maize Genetics Executive Committee.  He is also the co-lead of the Genomes to Fields Initiative.

Schnable is also a co-founder and managing partner of Data2Bio LLC, which provides research support for the breeding industry; of Dryland Genetics LLC; which is developing crops for arid environments via next-generation breeding; and of DecisionPx LLC which generates image-based decisions for crop production and breeding. He also serves on the scientific advisory boards of several other companies.