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The symposium was held at the beautiful and historical location of the Arts Centre of Palacký University at Olomouc in the Czech Republic. With approximately 70 participants, 34 oral presentations (mainly from the most prominent researchers in the field) and about 20 posters, this was an intensive meeting covering many aspects of downy mildew research. The sessions covered areas from evolution, biology, genetic variation, taxonomy, host resistance, population diversity and epidemiology to chemical and biological control of downy mildews. On arrival, participants were provided with a copy of the book ‘Advances in Downy Mildew Research, Vol 3’ (edited by Lebeda and Spencer-Phillips), which contained chapters based on the offered talks. Papers by the keynote lecturers will be published in a special edition of the European Journal of Plant Pathology in 2008.
The symposium was opened by the main organiser, Ales Lebeda, and his welcome included a short summary of the first Downy Mildews Symposium held in Switzerland in 1995. Ian Crute (UK) then gave an excellent overview of the underpinning science needed to ensure control of these important pathogens. Marco Thines (Germany) explained how molecular phylogeny has shown that Peronospora is more closely related to Phytophthora than to Hyaloperonospora, which in turn is most closely related to Sclerospora. And three species of Hyaloperonospora are now recognised, with H. arabidopsis distinct from H. brassicae and H. parasitica. Brigitte Mauch-Mani (Switzerland) described the difficulties of applying molecular techniques to grapevine downy mildew, and Lucie Salvaudon (France) described host tolerance to downy mildew infection. The end of the day was marked by a welcome ceremony hosted by the University Rector.
The second day included talks from Richard Michelmore (USA) and Sophien Kamoun (USA), who focused on the molecular genetics of oomycete-plant interactions, with an emphasis on pathogen effector molecules and host responses. A break from the conference was organised for the third day, when participants visited the Mendel Museum and monastery in Brno where Gregor Mendel lived and undertook his pioneering experiments on peas and other plants (and bees!). We also visited a Moravian castle at Valtice, where the best wines from the Czech Republic were enjoyed.
On the last day of the symposium, Alan Slusarenko (Germany) presented evidence for the anti-oomycete effects of Allicin extracted from Garlic. Ulrich Gisi (Switzerland) described aspects of the chemical control of pathogens such as Plasmopora viticola, Bremia lactucae and Phythophthora infestans. He stressed the importance of the appropriate use of fungicide to avoid triggering pathogen resistance. Interestingly, resistance to some fungicides was present even before their release to farmers. Yigal Cohen (Israel) described the new CAA (carbolic acid amide) fungicides and their ability to inhibit germination of oomycete spores. During subsequent discussion, he indicated that only 5% of the applied fungicide actually entered the plant.
The symposium concluded with a panel discussion of the progress made in downy mildew research, and indicated the future steps that must be made towards a better understanding and control of downy mildews. Finally, it was agreed that the venue of the next downy mildew symposium would be in the UK in approximately five years time. I would like to thank the BSPP for a grant to attend the symposium, to travel to the Czech Republic for the first time and for the great opportunity to meet a whole range of specialists in the downy mildew research community. The BSPP was also thanked by the organisers for its support for this symposium.
Josiane Chuisseu Wandji University of the West of England, Bristol, UK