Dr. Ho-Ming Chen, Visiting Professor at IPB University, Visits Faculty of Agriculture IPB

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Dr. Ho-Ming Chen, Visiting Professor at IPB University, Visits Faculty of Agriculture IPB

Dr. Ho-Ming Chen, a molecular and plant biotechnology expert from Academia Sinica Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center (AS-ABRC), Taiwan, and Adjunct Professor at National Taiwan University, visited IPB University from May 19 to 25, 2025. His visit was facilitated by the Directorate of Global Connectivity following the proposal from Prof. Dr. Dewi Sukma, SP., MSi., from the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Faculty of Agriculture IPB. During his visit as a Visiting Professor, Dr. Ho-Ming Chen engaged in various activities including guest lectures, presentations at seminars and workshops, and intensive discussions for potential further collaboration in banana research.

In the Guest Lecture for the Plant Cell Biology and Physiology Course (PBT 1635) for postgraduate students of the S2/S3 Plant Breeding and Biotechnology Study Program, Dr. Ho-Ming Chen delivered a lecture on “Cracking the Code of miRNA: From Computer to Bench.” In this lecture, Dr. Ho-Ming Chen explained RNA interference (RNAi) in plants, which plays a role in gene expression repression or gene silencing. RNAi involves small RNAs (22-24 nt) that cause gene silencing, generated from dsRNA cleavage by DCL proteins into small RNA fragments. These small RNAs associate with ARGONAUTE proteins to induce gene silencing. Dr. Ho-Ming Chen detailed the mechanism of gene silencing by small RNA, the production of 2nd siRNA that leads to silencing amplification.

As part of the Visiting Professor activities, Dr. Ho-Ming Chen also spoke at a Seminar and Workshop organized by the Faculty of Agriculture IPB, themed “BIOTECHNOLOGY RESEARCH AND APPLICATION TO SUPPORT PLANT BREEDING AND FOOD SECURITY” on May 20-21, 2024. In this seminar and workshop, Dr. Ho-Ming Chen presented two topics: “BANANA RESISTANCE TO FUSARIUM: GENETIC AND MOLECULAR ANALYSIS OF TR4-RESISTANT SOMACLONAL VARIANTS” and “DEVELOPMENT OF MOLECULAR MARKERS FOR BANANA SOMACLONAL VARIANTS.” In his presentations, Dr. Ho-Ming Chen shared that the Taiwan Banana Research Institute (TBRI) has developed at least 5 clones of Giant Cavendish tissue culture variants (GCTCVs) resistant to Fusarium race 4 (TR4). Dr. Ho-Ming Chen and his team identified mutations on chromosome 4 that confer resistance to TR4 and developed Single Nucleotide Variants (SNV) markers for these GCTCVs. The mutation on chromosome 4 is suspected to be a deletion mutation on one copy of the susceptibility gene (S gene), enhancing resistance to Fusarium. The S gene is a host factor that facilitates pathogen infection or acts as a repressor of plant immunity against pathogens. Virus-Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS) of the S gene has been shown to increase resistance to Fusarium (TR4).

During the Visiting Professor visit, Dr. Ho-Ming Chen also highlighted opportunities for students to intern in his laboratory through the TIGP internship program (https://tigp.sinica.edu.tw/pages/3127, https://tigp.sinica.edu.tw/, https://abrc.sinica.edu.tw/mbas/). He also invited IPB alumni to pursue S2/S3 studies at the Institute of Biotechnology, National Taiwan University (https://admissions.ntu.edu.tw/overseas-students/, https://iob.ntu.edu.tw/?locale=en).