BSPP News Autumn 2000 - Online Edition

The Newsletter of the British Society for Plant Pathology
Number 37, Autumn 2000 

Conference and Travel Reports

5th European Conference on Fungal Genetics
Arcachon, France : 25-29 March 2000

The 5th European Conference on Fungal Genetics was held in Arcachon on the Côte d'Argent, a long stretch of coastline which, at 200km, is the longest, straightest and sandiest in Europe. The conference began with a tour up the Pyla Dune, the highest sand dune in Europe, for which we were fortunate enough to enjoy two of the only sunny hours of the meeting. The view from the top, overlooking the bay of Arcachon and its famous oyster beds (whose produce we were due to sample later in the week), was superb. Following this, the conference was opened with a lecture by J. Bégueret on the occurrence of prions in yeast and filamentous fungi. The talk concentrated on Podospora anserina and evidence was presented that a protein encoded by the het-s gene is a prion.

Chris Caten, Sarah Rawlings, Sarah Perfect, Jon Green and Jim Croft basking in French sunshine.

The following day began with a plenary session on gene silencing with lectures from J. Rossignol on DNA methylation and gene silencing in Ascobolus, and G. Macino on quelling in Neurospora crassa. From this session it was apparent that gene silencing occurs in many fungal species. The theme of gene expression and its regulation continued through the following workshop chaired by M. Caddick and H. Haas. C. Ribard introduced us to the regulation of the adenine deaminase (nadA) gene of Aspergillus nidulans which involves both specific and general activators. In contrast to many genes, it was observed that the GATA factor AreA had a negative rather than a positive effect on the expression of nadA, and that this might reflect the role of nadA in both purine catabolism and salvage pathways. A general conclusion was that the complexity of regulatory mechanisms governing many fungal genes, especially those encoding metabolic enzymes, allows co-ordinate expression and efficient use of limited nutrient resources.

Until fairly recently, it would have been unusual to see a whole workshop session purely devoted to genomics and bioinformatics. It is, nonetheless, difficult nowadays to escape these disciplines which impinge on so many areas of fungal genetics. R. Dean introduced the International Rice Blast Genome Project, reporting that they had completed the fingerprint and end-sequence analyses of a 25-fold genome coverage BAC library. High density cDNA macroarrays are being used to identify genes expressed during appressorium formation and infection of rice. Other genomics projects described in this session included the MIPS Neurospora crassa database (G. Mannhaupt), the Fusarium venenatum EST project (M. Rey), characterisation of genes expressed in Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei (S. Thomas), gene profiling in cutinase-expressing Saccharomyces cerevisiae (C. Sagt), durable resources for discovery and development of new gene products from Trichoderma reesei and Aspergillus niger (N. Dunn-Coleman), and a rapid and general method for efficient gene replacement in filamentous fungi (C. D'Enfert).

Simon Cutler climbing the Pyla Dune - "It's tough being a fungal geneticist!"

The "evening's entertainment" was firstly provided by Claudio Scazzocchio who gave an animated presentation of his work on nucleosome positioning in fungal promoters. John Hamer of Paradigm Genetics followed by unveiling his latest tool for genomics, that of "Scazzocchiomics", and then described transposon arrayed gene knock-out (TagKO) technology and nutritional profiling. It is believed that these techniques will enable rapid assaying of fungal phenotypes.

The third day was opened by Pierre de Wit with an impressive plenary lecture outlining his life's work on the structure and function of virulence and avirulence genes of Cladosporium fulvum and Cf resistance genes of tomato. The data suggest the presence of a versatile surveillance system for recognition of foreign proteins in various wild Lycopersicon species. This was followed by a workshop on fungal pathogenicity at which our own Sarah Perfect was invited to participate. She too talked about her life's work (though a little shorter than Pierre de Wit's) describing the distribution and characterisation of the biotrophy-related gene CIH1 within the genus Colletotrichum. The congress provided the perfect opportunity to present a talk at such a prestigious international meeting. It also provided Sarah Rawlings of Birmingham (together with Bleddyn Hughes, Richard O'Connell and Jon Green) a chance to display a poster entitled "The molecular and cellular basis of spore adhesion in Colletotricum lindemuthianum". Colletotrichum was again considered by A. Pellier discussing a transcriptional activator, CLTA1, involved in pathogenicity. The role of cell wall degrading enzymes from Claviceps purpurea during infection of rye was presented by P. Heidrich. In a second session (must be an important area eh?) on fungal pathogenicity, Pietro Spanu described the role of hydrophobins in dispersal of Cladosporium fulvum using gene-knockout mutants in a talk entitled "Fungal raincoats as dispersal aids".

Mobile elements, cellular degeneration and senescence provided the material for a further workshop, and included presentations by Frank Kempken on transposon-directed mutagenesis in filamentous fungi, Anton Sonnenberg on a LTR-retrotransposon in Agaricus bisporus, and Jack Kennell on telomere-like mitochondrial retroplasmids of Fusarium oxysporum. The University of Birmingham were represented in this section with a poster by Jennifer Rawson, Simon Cutler and Chris Caten entitled "Transposable elements in the phytopathogenic fungus Stagonospora nodorum". In the concurrent session on cell biology, Tim Bourett presented his elegant images obtained using GFP and its spectral variants to study Magnaporthe grisea. An evening of culinary delight lay ahead for delegates as the Mayor of Arcachon invited us to enjoy the local produce of oysters (greeted with a mixed reception).

On the final day, participants were educated by Marguerite Picard in the unexpected facets of sexual development in fungi, before Cees van den Hondel closed the congress and summed up. Delegates were treated to a wine tasting and farewell dinner in the Saint Estephe wine area, and continued dancing and drinking late(ish) into the night and during the 2 hour (!) coach journey home.

We would like to thank the BSPP for their generous support enabling us to participate in this conference.

Simon Cutler, Sarah Perfect and Sarah Rawlings
The University of Birmingham

BSPP Presidential Meeting "Biotic interactions in plant-pathogen associations"
Oxford : 19-22 December 1999

This meeting was attending by about 120 delegates with a mix of well-established scientists and young enthusiastic post-graduate students. The weather at that time was very  wintry and much snow had fallen in  Oxfordshire making Oxford look pretty.

Professor Mike Jeger gave the presidential address, setting the scene by giving a broad overview of the theory of plant disease epidemics. During the next three days, there was a tremendous accumulation of knowledge in biotic interactions - all with the aim of better understanding the pathogen and providing ways to control the disease.

The Garrett Memorial Lecture, given by  Professor Thomas Pirone  (University of Kentucky, USA) provided a clear and fascinating talk on aphid transmission of potyviruses that  focused on  the complexities of the  transmission process. A poster session then follow where I had the opportunity to present my work on  dsRNA virus with effects on growth and virulence in Verticillium fungicola  infecting cultivated mushroom. The meeting also included the BSPP-sponsored P.H. Gregory paper competition and the poster competition sponsored by the Association of Applied Biologists Virology Group. The winning  paper presentation was titled 'The effects of environmental factors on light leaf spot epidemics on winter oilseed rape in the UK' by Tijs Gilles; IACR-Rothamsted UK. The winning  poster presentation was titled 'Sequence analysis of Furoviruses of cereals from China and Europe' by Aipo Diao and M.J. Adams ; IACR-Rothamsted UK.

The atmosphere of the conference dinner at the hall of Hertford College was very warm and friendly. The meeting was well organised, discussions were stimulating and provided a great opportunity to meet others working in this area. I would especially like to thank Dr Mark Hocart, Mrs Morag Hay, Dr Nicola Spence, Professor Chris Gilligan and everyone else responsible for the organisation of such a successful meeting. I would also like to acknowledge the generous award from BSPP Travel Fund which allowed me to attend this enjoyable, friendly and stimulating meeting.

Angsana Akarapisan
Chiang Mai University, Thailand.

First International Meeting on Phytophtoras in Forest and Wildland Ecosystems
Grants Pass, Oregon : 30 Aug - 3 Sept 1999

On the flight from Seattle to Medford the snow capped peaks of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood provided a backdrop to the vast acreage of coniferous forest in the Pacific north west of the USA.  The widespread death of the important Port Orford Cedars in these forests as a result of Phytophthora lateralis infection serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of introductions of alien Phytophthora species and was a key theme running through the 5-day meeting.

The conference was organised by the IUFRO (International Union of Forestry Research Organizations) working party on Phytophthora diseases. The 45 or so delegates, principally from the USA, Australia and Europe met in the small town of Grants Pass in Southern Oregon which provided an excellent base for visits to local forests with Phytophthora problems as well as an exciting evening's jet boat ride down the Rogue River.

After an overview of the main problems in Europe, Australasia and the Americas by Clive Brasier, Ken Old and Everett Hansen there followed sessions on many aspects of Phytophthora biology and management.  The first on the ecology, epidemiology and impacts of Phytophthora highlighted the problems caused by P. cinnamomi in Portuguese cork oak and Australian native vegetation, P. quercina on oaks across much of Europe and a hybrid species responsible for death of hundreds of thousands of alder trees in NW Europe.  In the session on biology and genetics, contrasting cases were presented which illustrated the range of genetic plasticity encountered in Phytophthora.  In Oregon virtually no genetic variation amongst isolates of P. lateralis from Port Orford Cedar suggested a relatively recent importation. In the case of the hybrid alder Phytophthora found in Europe, tremendous genetic, morphological and cytological diversity was indicative of a recent interspecific hybridisation event.  Alas we do not know the origin of either the P. lateralis outbreak or sufficient detail of the hybrid's parents but both demonstrate the threat Phytophthora can pose and the need for rigorous testing of health status checks in international plant trade. I added to this session with a presentation (collaborative work with colleagues in Munich) on the genetic diversity of P. quercina, another pathogen increasing in incidence and severity but of unknown origin.

In other sessions on pathogenicity testing and disease management we learnt of the work to both control and limit the spread of P. cinnamomi in Alcoa's bauxite mining operations in W. Australia where world heritage sites are threatened.  Along with a presentation on risk analysis and resistance breeding to minimise the P. lateralis threat in Port Orford Cedar it was possible to gauge the practical measures that could be taken to limit introductions once they had occurred.

In the final session we heard of changes in disease patterns that could occur if climate change should continue as predicted.  We  also returned to some common themes in Phytophthora research; the difficulties in isolation, identification and detection and the applicability of in vitro c.f. whole plant bait tests as a measure of pathogenicity.   In this session I presented my Phytophthora identification module based on rDNA internal transcribed spacer (ITS) profiling and highlighted the forthcoming web site designed to aid Phytophthora identification in this manner.

The IUFRO Working Party 7.02.09 business meeting chaired by Ken Old summarised the key issues raised during the meeting; the need to assess the potential threats of introductions of 'wild' and geographically restricted Phytophthoras to native vegetation; the impact of global climate change and the threats of hybrid formation caused by the failure of plant health legislation to prevent import and export of plant material infected with Phytophthora.

I would like to thank the British Society for Plant Pathology and the Scottish Society for Crop Research for supporting this opportunity to present my work to an international audience as well as the Scottish Executive for Rural Affairs Department and the British Council/DAAD for supporting the Phytophthora research undertaken at SCRI.  Lastly a big thank you to Professor Everett Hansen and his colleagues for organising a meeting that was both scientifically stimulating and great fun.

David Cooke
Scottish Crop Research Institute

Cambridge Mycology and Plant Pathology Club - 50th Anniversary Meeting

To celebrate the first 50 years of the Cambridge Club a special afternoon meeting was organised on 30 June 2000 in the Department of Plant Sciences, Cambridge.  We gratefully acknowledge financial support from BSPP for this meeting. The founding organisations provided reviews of their activities and short papers were offered by members. The President, Henry Tribe, opened the meeting with a historical review pointing out that an increase in the number of organisations with an interest in plant pathology and their dispersal around Cambridge had prompted W Dillon-Weston (NAAS) and Professor Noel Robertson (Botany School)  to establish the Club.  The first meeting on 6 November 1950 featured a talk  by W A R  Dillon-Weston on 'Diseases in East Anglia'.  We were pleased to see representatives from the very first meeting, namely June Baker (nee Ives) and Jean Welbank (nee Drayner) at this reunion.

Professor Chris Gilligan  showed the linkages between current work in the Department of Plant Sciences and that of  Denis Garrett, John Rishbeth, David Ingram and Peter Lowings.  The challenge of scaling up from the individual to the field was illustrated using Rhizoctonia solani,  take-all and rhizomania. Valerie Silvey of NIAB showed how interest in diseases has increased over the last 40 years powdery mildew on Proctor spring barley and yellow rust on Rothwell Perdix wheat have stimulated much cereal pathology!  Wheat yields in NIAB trials increased from 5.0 t/ha in 1972 to 7.8 t/ha in 1992 and this was accompanied by major changes in husbandry and fungicide use.  Avice Hall of the University of Hertfordshire provided links dating to 1952 when Peter Day was based at Bayfordbury, near Hertford.  Teaching and research activities on a diversity of topics were outlined and practical links are to the fore with a new CD on 'Environmental Management for Agriculture' selling well.  Professor John Mansfield offered his congratulations on reaching the 50th Anniversary and indicated  how vital it was not to lose touch with the diversity of plant pathology activities.

David Yarham provided personal reminiscences of advisory work.  Agricultural changes since the 1950s included increased mechanisation, increased use of nitrogen and herbicides, derationing of animal feed, continuous cereal production and development of improved varieties, most notably Capelle Desprez. Take-all had been  a special interest, it being one of the few diseases one could do something about in the pre-fungicide era. There were early pointers of future problems with fungicide resistance when resistance to mercury seed treatment occurred in oat leaf spot pathogen.  Early foliar disease control involved ethirimol seed treatment and zineb sprays for powdery mildew in spring barley.  Large scale experiments in Norfolk at that time involved crops in an area of 5 square miles.  Subsequently environmental concerns about pesticides were addressed through the Boxworth project and its successors. Advisory activities have changed along with agriculture, but the multi-disciplinary approach remains as important as ever.

The pioneering work of Peter Lowings in dealing with diseases in ships cargoes was acknowledged as Anna Snowdon provided tales of the perils of being a fruit or vegetable on the high seas.  Investigations of sclerotinia rots in carrots and ripening of bananas provided excellent case studies of detective work.  John Gibbs acknowledged the influence of Denis Garrett in stimulating his interest in pathology.  Work has continuing to extend the work of John Rishbeth with Phlebiopsis (formerly Peniophora) gigantea  for bio-control of  butt rot (Heterbasidion annosum) to mechanised harvesters. There is also the prospect that control will be developed for spruce stumps in future. Oak wilt provided a second case study and it may be possible to exploit weaknesses in its saprophytic phase to achieve some measure of biological control.

The meeting was attended by 40 members, most of whom were captured on film after celebrating with a round of champagne kindly provided by the British Mycological Society. This was followed by a dinner at Downing College, Cambridge attended by 20 members.
On Saturday, 1 July, an enthusiastic group were treated to a tour of Monsanto plc (previously Plant Breeding International) guided by Richard Summers, Head of Wheat Breeding. An enjoyable tour of field plots revealed a healthy spectrum of diseases with something to interest everyone - be it root, stem, leaf or ear.

Meetings will be organised in the autumn as we enter year 51. Contact the secretary, Peter Gladders for further information (01954 268230; email

Agricultural Microbes Genome conference
San Diego, USA : 13-14 January 2000

The BSPP helped fund my visit to the inaugural Agricultural Microbes Genome conference, held in San Diego, following the regular Plant and Animal Genome (PAG) conference.  We felt it was important that our research group was represented at this meeting and in fact my colleague Paul Birch and I were the only two UK delegates working on plant pathology.  We presented posters on current work at SCRI entitled "Investigating the pathogenicity of Erwinia carotovora subspecies by genome mapping using BAC libraries" and "Construction of a bacterial artificial chromosome library of the late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans".

Although the conference was small (with only 160 present) it will be remembered for an announcement that marks a new era in plant pathology: the first completed genome sequence of a plant pathogen.  The conference was also valuable for illustrating the power of genomics approaches to allow new understanding of microbes and also some practical approaches to genomics studies. I shall refer in particular to three presentations.

Andrew Simpson (Ludwig Institute, Brazil) stole the show with the announcement that a Brazilian consortium has completed sequencing the genome of the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa.  This was a remarkable story for many reasons: the manner in which the  Brazilian scientific community pulled together to achieve a world first; the way they overcame limited resources and expertise; the stimulus the project has provided for Brazilian science and of course the implications for plant pathology.

This bacterium is the cause of a number of plant diseases.  Only in 1987 was it discovered to be the cause of citrus variegated chlorosis.  São Paoulo state is the world's biggest citrus producer and now 83% of its trees are infected, which is having a major effect on the citrus crop. However, very little of the basis of the pathology of this organism was understood other than that it clogged xylem vessels in the host.  Prior to the project only rRNA genes had been sequenced and there were no genetic maps or cosmid libraries available.  Now, however, with the complete genome sequence there is a huge amount that is known or surmised about the physiology and pathology of X. fastidiosa.  No other approach could have yielded so much information in so little time (around 2 years).  Interesting traits of X. fastidiosa include that it appears to use only monosaccharides as a source of carbon; it has few transport proteins and it has very different polysaccharide biosynthesis to E. coli.  It possesses a diverse arsenal of weapons with which to attack its hosts: haemolysins, pectinases, adhesins, toxins and a xanthan gum operon (similar to that in Xanthomonas).  The synthetic pathway and structure of this gum have been predicted.  Surprisingly, X. fastidiosa appears to lack the Type III secretory system that seems to be so common in pathogens.  Functional genomics studies are ongoing and the Brazilians have already begun a sequencing project for Xanthamonas citri.

Mary E. Lidstrom of the University of Washington gave an interesting talk on genomics efforts with Methylobacterium extorquens.  This plant epiphyte uses methanol released from plants as its soul carbon source.  Its peculiar C1 metabolism is of interest in biosynthetic applications.  One of the main points to come out of this talk was that genome sequencing projects can be much cheaper than people might imagine.  To complete a genome sequence requires sequencing of a library of random subclones estimated to cover the genome several times, followed by directed gap closure.  However, sequencing a library of subclones equivalent to only one-fold genome coverage is far less laborious and less expensive but should still give around 60 % of the whole genome sequence.  Furthermore, some sequence information should be obtained from more than 90 % of genes by this strategy.  This is sufficient to allow the identification of putative new genes and operons.  Many interesting new genes involved in C1 metabolism and other functions have been identified in this project which was funded by a relatively small "single investigator" grant rather than the multi-million pound collaborative grants often required for sequencing.  Also, in this relatively small scale project the investigators had sequences returned to them in small batches and so they were able to perform sequence database searches and annotations and deposit their own sequences in the public databases as they went along.  This is in contrast to other projects where there is sometimes a long delay between a sequence being obtained, analysed, annotated and released to the community often resulting in a conflict of interest between public funding agencies who may wish for quick release and the investigators who may not wish to release until they have got what they can from the sequences.  From their initial sequencing effort this group was able to discover new sets of genes involved in methylotrophy and in polyhydroxybutyrate synthesis.

Genomics in plant pathology is in its infancy but progress in other areas gives us a view of the types of studies that can be performed and the insights that they can provide.  Incredibly, in some fields of microbiology we are now in the post-genome sequencing era.  In a talk by Martin Rosenberg entitled "Genomic approaches to antimicrobial discovery" we learned that his company SmithKline Beecham now have all the microbial genome sequences that they require at present.  Analysis of these sequences has already yielded a number of potential new targets for antibiotic activity. This represents remarkable progress given that in the last 25 years no new antibiotic mechanism has reached the market.  The most important use of whole genome sequences in this area is to look at gene expression.  For in vitro studies DNA can be spotted onto chips with each spot corresponding to a gene or putative gene (open reading frame or ORF).  RNA can be screened against these chips to examine expression of every gene in the genome under particular conditions. Unfortunately at present this method is not sensitive enough to look at gene expression in the context of host-pathogen interactions and the more laborious method of fluorescent RT-PCR is required.  This is only relatively laborious however: high throughput approaches mean that 2 postdocs in 2 weeks were able to monitor expression of 1700 ORFs in duplicate.  Another strategy SKB is actively pursuing is allelic replacement mutagenesis which can be used to knock out genes to determine those essential for growth, thus providing new candidate genes for antibiotic action.

As antibiotic resistance continues to spread, Dr Rosenberg presented us with a frightening scenario in which the later part of the 20th century and the early part of the 21st might in future be remembered as a "blip" in which mankind had antibiotic protection from infectious disease.  We are in a race to find new targets and mechanisms for antimicrobial action and Dr Rosenberg said that, other than a genomics approach "I don't know another way to do it. If we don't do it this way we are in pretty deep shit. Maybe we won't have to worry about Alzheimer's"!

Attending this conference made a number of things clear to me.  It showed just how powerful genomic approaches can be in providing new understanding of microbes (that could not be obtained by other methods) and how little plant pathogen genomics is actually ongoing.  There seems to be a feeling that genome sequencing projects are too expensive to be undertaken and maybe America is where it will all happen.  These were shown to be misconceptions by the talks by Andrew Simpson and Mary Lidstrom and also in the comments of Noel Keen.  Dr Keen berated the American funding agencies for failing to support plant pathogen genomics and said that this meant that all of plant pathology was losing out as a result.  British plant pathology must now make best use of its wits and resources to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities that the new age of genomics presents.  I wish to thank the BSPP for helping me to attend this remarkable conference.

Kenneth Bell
Scottish Crop Research Institute, Dundee

10th International Rapeseed Congress
Canberra : 26-29 September 1999

The 10th International Rapeseed Congress was held at the International Conference Centre, Canberra, Australia.  The conference centre was part of a complex of hotels with nearby restaurants and a casino situated in central Canberra.  The new and rather imposing Australian parliament building was also just down the road (a dubious term to use in an Australian context). The week also marked the beginning of the Canberra floriade enabling delegates to wander as a cloud between some long or particularly harrowing conference sessions.  The setting provided a more than satisfactory experience given Canberra's undeserved reputation.

The conference was attended by about 700 delegates and had representation from most of the brassica oilseed producing countries. It is relatively unusual for conferences these days to be organised with a commodity as the main subject area. However with such a wide variety of arable and horticultural brassicas this is probably one of the few crop commodities outside cereals where this approach can be adopted successfully.  The major scientific themes of the conference were plant breeding and biotechnology, chemistry and nutrition, crop production within farming systems, constraints on production notably crop protection. These themes were reflected in the keynote topics in the opening sessions.  Professor Moloney described use of crops of rapeseed as "factories", for the production of other compounds, in one keynote address. Although not a new area certainly an increasingly important topic area for farming and growing in the "new age precision era".  Although the technology seemed well developed it occurred to me that there were certainly other easier and more productive crops that could be and are currently being used for this purpose. The dependence of the economics of rapeseed production on the production of other oilseed crops especially, rather puzzlingly, on palm oil underlined the need for other uses for the crop apart from as a conventional food source.

The crop protection sessions of the conference did not begin until the second day of the conference.  Despite this there were a large number of interesting presentations and a considerable quantity and quality of posters to view.  I found it particularly interesting to learn that brassicas were non-hosts for vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. One series of oral presentations centred on controlling diseases of rapeseed crops.  There was an update on the effect of glucosinolate biosynthesis on disease interactions which featured in the previous congress in Cambridge in 1995.  New results were presented on the types and induction of biosynthetic pathways produced when Brassica napus was infected with Sclerotinia sclerotorium.  Clubroot (Plasmodiophora brassicae) infection on roots was shown to be linked to the presence of indolyglucosinolates as a major component of their glucosinolate profile.

The conference sessions on the epidemiology of diseases of oilseed brassicas were of most relevance to me.  A review of the epidemiology, forecasting and management of winter oilseed rape diseases provided a good blend of how newer techniques could be used to control a range of diseases.  The presentations on the pathotypes of Albugo candida (white blister) which infect crucifers were of particular interest given that disease is a major problem on vegetable crucifers and has recently become a problem on oilseed rape grown in Scotland. The poster session contained further information on the Scottish experience with white blister.  There were also interesting posters on modeling life cycle stages of Pyrenopeziza brassicae (light leaf spot) and Leptosphaeria maculans (stem canker).  Another topic area covered in this poster session was the trapping of airborne inoculum and how this information might be used in controlling Leptosphaeria. The use of new techniques which are becoming more cost effective, rapid and user friendly for detecting air-borne inoculum will see further impact in control of many of these diseases. However the trapping systems that have been used to obtain samples have often lagged behind the techniques used to analyse samples. Many of the sampling problems in the air or in the crop have not been addressed adequately.

The final day of the conference had one of nine sessions devoted to host-pathogen interactions. The oral presentations were of a good standard with new information on resistance genes in Brassica napus to Leptosphaeria maculans.  Information on the mechanisms of resistance in mustard to Alternaria brassicae, through the detoxification of the phytotoxin destruxin B, was presented. The posters remained in position throughout the conference, which is a definite benefit to the delegate. A good balance was maintained between poster numbers and the presentation area, an aspect which is sometimes overlooked in major international congresses. There were some interesting poster presentations within the associated session on the development of new biocontrol products for Sclerotinia sclerotiorium in oilseed rape. Although biocontrol remains a very interesting topic area too often it has been presented in terms of one disease on a crop type. However most crops are affected by more than one disease which would make the practical usage of biocontrol agents commercially more difficult.  Chemical control featured heavily in both the oral and poster sessions, which emphasised the lack of impact of new technologies for controlling disease in arable crucifer production.  This is a potentially important point as the increased costs involved in producing crops using new techniques may make it impossible for areas where these techniques are being promoted to compete with other areas where chemicals are the major crop protection input in a free market.

A visit to the new parliament building where one could sit in on some of the parliamentary sessions was also deemed a necessity during breaks in the conference.  At close quarters one can appreciate its size even though its foyer looked like some neo classical temple.  I felt it appropriate to visit the senate.  Coincidentally I attended the conference dinner of the 12th Biennial Conference of the Australasian Plant Pathological Society which was running in Canberra at the same time.  I was therefore able to enjoy both conferences at the same time as they were being held approximately half a mile apart. The 10th International Rapeseed Congress was a very enjoyable conference with a large amount of new information presented.  Canberra also provided a very interesting backdrop to the congress with its many new restaurants.  Most of these were situated in the suburbs so it was not always easy for delegates to meet up in the evening after the end of the sessions.  Some parts of the centre of the Canberra went very quiet in the evening restricting the delegate in search of some types of entertainments. However generally all aspects of the congress were a good success and the 11th congress will be held in Europe in 2003.

R. Kennedy
Horticulture Research International