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This year’s conference was organised by the Hungarian Agricultural Research Institute, with headquarters situated in a beautiful building in the centre of Budapest. The congress is held every 4 years and the slogan for this year was ‘plant breeding for future generations’.
The focus of EUCARPIA (European Association for Research on Plant Breeding) is to promote the co-ordination of plant breeding challenges and techniques across crop species. A diverse set of scientific papers were presented covering crops from wheat and potatoes through to artichokes. The meeting kicked off with a welcome by the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, followed by a summary of future breeding aims and Eucarpia’s activities.
Climate change and environmental stability were central to the meeting which fitted very well with my PhD project which involves looking into how the environment can affect resistance in wheat. My poster was well received and I had some very useful discussions with people regarding further development of my project. The role and implications of cisgenesis in plant breeding was also a hot topic. In Europe the process is governed by the same laws as transgenesis but a group in the Netherlands are looking to change this. Any progress would considerably speed up plant breeding processes.
A highlight for me was when Kellye Eversole gave an overview of where we are with the bread wheat sequencing project. She was an excellent speaker and clearly got across the enormity of the project, where they currently stand and what more there is to do. Construction of chromosome based physical maps will be an invaluable tool for wheat breeders and researchers alike.
Another interesting talk was given by Agim Ballvora from INRES and his work on phenotyping early plant responses to drought conditions. Basic mechanisms of this process are poorly understood but using hyperspectral imaging the group has found a way to detect accelerated senescence before it becomes visible.
The afternoon of day three consisted of an excursion to the Centre for Agricultural Research institute in Martonvásár. Laboratories were excellently maintained with a diverse range of equipment and it was pleasant to see scientists working in such elegant buildings surrounded by exquisitely landscaped gardens. Delegates were given an extensive tour of the labs with informal introductions from researches before an excellent conference dinner beside the lake.
The conference was extremely well organised and an excellent opportunity for me to present my work and become more familiar with plant breeding as a possible career after finishing my PhD. I am grateful to the BSPP for providing funds for me to attend the meeting
John Innes Centre