A proud son of Samoa was among hundreds of students at the Queensland University of Technology (Q.U.T) in Brisbane Australia who graduated at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre at South Bank.
Misatauveve Anthony Palupe, graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Plant Biotechnology in the field of molecular biology/genetic engineering.
Dr. Palupe is the son of the late Taito Manuele Palupe, of Falelima, Savai’i and Tofaeono Josephine Robertson-Palupe, of Siumu, who was born and raised in his family home in Lalovaea.
Many members of Dr. Palupe’s family attended his graduation including his mother, his siblings and his wife, Dlyne Punivalu- Palupe and three children.
The special guest at his graduation was his aunty Sr. Ana Robertson who is a Catholic nun in Geralton, Western Australia.
Dr. Palupe pursued college education at Samoa College and Onehunga High School in Auckland, New Zealand in the 80s.
He graduated from The University of the South Pacific, School of Agriculture and Food Technology at Alafua, with a Bachelor and Masters in Agriculture specialising in plant tissue culture technology, and spent 16 years at USP working at the Plant Tissue Culture Unit where he became Tissue Culture Officer and Laboratory Manager before migrating to Australia in early 2008.
He spent three years working for Syngenta Biotechnology at QUT as a tissue culture specialist for the genetic transformation of sugar cane, for development of cellulosic ethanol for biofuel.
In 2010, he was awarded an Australian Postgraduate Award Industry scholarship from the Australian Research Council (ARC) to implement his PhD research entitled “Development of molecular tools for improvement of transgene expressions in sugar cane”.
Sugar cane is a major source of food and fuel worldwide and it is primarily cultivated for its sugar rich stalks for the production of sugar.
Sugar cane accounts for 75% of the world’s sugar production and is one of Australia’s primary rural industry contributing more than AUD$1.5 billion per annum to the Australian economy. With approximately 80% of sugar in Australia exported, this makes the industry vulnerable to international market competition and price fluctuations.
Biotechnology holds great potential for the diversification and sustainability of the sugar cane industry through development of transgenic varieties for the production of pharmaceutical, high value proteins and industrial products.
It can also be genetically engineered to express cellulolytic enzymes for the cost-effective production of cellulosic ethanol (biofuel) and to sugar content, pest and disease resistance and other agronomic traits.
The overall objective of Dr Palupe’s research project was the development of molecular tools that can be used to improve transgene expression in sugar cane. Successful outcomes from this research have the potential to directly improve sugar cane biotechnology.
These improvements will assist in the creation of transgenic varieties with superior characteristics that will help the sustainability of the sugar cane industry by enabling the production of other products besides sugar.
Finally, improved gene expression technologies that may result from this project have the potential to improve plant biotechnology in other important crops in addition to sugar cane.