These reports are written by the beneficiaries of our event organisation fund.
Click here to read more about the fund and apply yourself
The Official Seed Testing Station for Scotland (OSTS), Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), hosted the 7th ISTA Seed Health Symposium on behalf of ISTA’s Seed Health Committee. The main functions of the ISTA Seed Health Committee are to; develop, standardise and validate seed testing methods for seed transmitted diseases, organise proficiency tests for methods within the International Rules for Seed Testing (ISTA rules); update seed health methods within the ISTA rules and organise symposia, seminars and workshops. ISTA seed health methods are free to download from the ISTA website www.seedtest.org. The symposium was held in Edinburgh from 12th to 14th June 2014 and formed part of the OSTS’s centenary celebrations. The meeting attracted 94 participants from 27 countries and was held in the National Museum of Scotland, in the heart of the city. The symposium was a valuable, unique meeting, bringing together industry, government and international organisations to discuss all aspects of seed transmitted diseases. Françoise Petter, from the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) was invited to give the opening presentation of the symposium. Françoise discussed the main aims of EPPO, and focussed on their work identifying seed-borne pests that present risks for different regions. This was followed by the afternoon session on seed-borne diseases transmission and epidemiology which included talks on Ramularia, Tilletia, Michrodochium, Fusarium and coriander bacterial blight. The second invited speaker, Ruud Scheffer from the International Seed Federation opened day two. Ruud talked about the work of the International Seed Health Initiative for Vegetable Crops (ISHI-Veg) and the many challenges faced when developing reliable tests for seed transmitted pathogens. The morning session on test method standardisation and laboratory evaluation included talks on new meth ods for the detection of pospiviroids, Sclerotinia and Xanthomonas. Valerie Grimault, SHC Chair discussed the developments within ISTA for Seed Health proficiency testing (PT), particularly how ISTA propose to evaluate laboratories participating in the Seed Health PT rounds.
Jane Chard, Chair International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Standards Committee, added to the theme by presenting a talk on the development of IPPC standards with particular reference to recent seed standards. Before and during the lunch break delegates had the chance to view the 23 posters from presenters from 12 different countries. Posters covered a diverse range of topics, notably development and validation of new methods, particularly molecular methods, and novel seed treatments. In the afternoon a session on seed treatments for conventional and organic seed production included talks on assessing the effect of treatments for Spacelotheca on maize, rhizobial isolates as a method of bio control for Rhizoctonia, Sydowia infection in conifers, treating Alternaria on sunflowers and treatments for Xanthomonas on rice. The final session of the day on emerging diseases and cli mate change included presentations on newly discovered pathogens of leafy vegetables in Italy, two talks on Fusarium pathogens on cereals in Europe and talks on Sclerotinia in Brazil and Phomopsis in Austria. After a full days programme, participants enjoyed a guided coach tour of Edinburgh before arriving at the Royal Botanic Gardens for an evening barbe cue and drinks. The rain held off and everyone was able to make the most of the beautiful setting in the gardens. The final session of the symposium was on traditional and modern approaches for seed health evaluation. Presenters described novel methods for detecting pathogens on alfalfa, tomato and cucurbits, and on using next generation sequencing for pathogen screening. A talk was given on sampling methods to detect pathogens that occur at very low frequencies in seed lots, and the session also included both a talk and a demonstration on the use of multispectral imaging for seed health testing. Feedback from the symposium has been very positive, with comments such as “It was really a pleasure to participate in the symposium” and “this was a fabulous opportunity to meet with all sectors of the seed health community”. Special thanks must go to the British Society of Plant Pathology (BSPP) and Bayer Crop Growth who sponsored the meeting and enabled us to bring in invited speakers and help reduce the cost of the symposium for students. The meeting met its brief both inside and outside the auditorium bringing together people from across different organisations and building relationships that will serve the international seed pathology and seed communities for years to come. Valerie Cockerell and Laura Bowden Official Seed Testing Station for Scotland
Valerie Cockerell and Laura Bowden Official Seed Testing Station for Scotland