The ‘Plant Pathology’ Best Student Paper prize for 2021 has been awarded to Pedro Valverde from the University of Cordoba, Spain, for his paper entitled ‘Highly infested soils undermine the use of resistant olive rootstocks as a control method of verticillium wilt’ (vol. 70, 144–153, https://bsppjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ppa.13264).
This manuscript is an important paper that contributes significant findings about the behaviour of different rootstocks/olive cultivar combinations towards the soilborne pathogen Verticillium dahliae. In particular, it represents an important example of how long-term field experiments, that are often difficult to conduct, can yield invaluable data that would be missed through short-term controlled environment studies, with evidence that whilst grafting susceptible scions onto resistant rootstock can delay the onset of disease for a few years, after 4 years the disease does eventually reach the susceptible scions to cause symptoms as severe as in non-grafted susceptible plants.
The ‘Molecular Plant Pathology’ Best Student Paper prize for 2021 has been awarded to Chen Wang from the Australian National University, Canberra, for his paper entitled ‘The identification of a transposon affecting the asexual reproduction of the wheat pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici’ (vol 22, 800-816, https://bsppjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/mpp.13064).
Repetitive elements are commonly observed in genomes of fungi and other organisms and mediate genome evolution; however, their roles remain obscure. This manuscript provides compelling evidence that a gene REP9-1, which resides within a Class II transposon, influences the virulence of Z. tritici, the causal agent of Septoria tritici blotch of wheat. These data add further complexity to the types of genetic loci that regulate fungal virulence. This work was supported by the China Scholarship Council, the Grains Research and Development Corporation, and the Australian National University.