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The EUPHRESCO Dickeya / Pectobacterium consortium consists of about 40 international researchers working on Pectobacterium and Dickeya species infecting potatoes primarily, but also various other crops and ornamentals. This group meets annually to discuss recent research results, new directions for research and future collaborations. This workshop provides a platform to brainstorm ideas with other researchers in this field. The workshop this year was held at SASA in Edinburgh and was attended by 39 researchers from Europe, Israel, South America, USA and South Africa.
In the survey section, presentations by researchers from Australia, Finland, France, Russia, Scotland, South Africa and the USA all showed an increase in prevalence of soft rot and blackleg in the respective countries. In many cases Dickeya spp. seemed to be increasing in importance, highlighting the need for continued surveys and accurate identification of causal agents in the field.
Presentations in the genomics section focussed on both Pectobacterium and Dickeya spp. The use of the pangenome in determining the taxonomic status of the relatively newly described potato pathogen, Pectobacterium parmentieri, was explained. It was clear from the discussions in this session that the taxonomy of this group of phytopathogenic bacteria is constantly in flux and therefore requires researchers to remain abreast of changes made to nomenclature.
In the third session, on diagnostics, a new multiplex PCR for identifying bacteria directly from plant sap was presented, as was the use of gapA in a phylogenetic analysis. An interesting observation about the characteristic growth of Dickeya solani on Biokar PDA which could simplify preliminary identification of this pathogen, was shared with the group.
The most extensive session was that of epidemiology and control. The primary focus areas of this session were biocontrol, using either phage therapy or bacteria as biocontrol agents, and management of the disease by planting tolerant cultivars and those with increased phenolic production, dipping of tubers in antimicrobial compounds and promoting a healthy phytobiome.
In the final session of the workshop, interactions between the pathogen and host were discussed, and recent results from various research groups were presented. It is through improved understanding of these interactions that we will be able to develop efficient management strategies of the pathogens which form this disease complex.
At the close of the meeting the possibility of writing a book on Pectobacterium and Dickeya species, to summarise the work done in the EUPHRESCO network since its inception, was discussed. I am grateful to the BSPP for making it possible for me to attend this workshop. It was a most productive and beneficial time of learning and strengthening collaborations.
Prof Jacquie van der Waals University of Pretoria, South Africa 10th International Workshop on Grapevine Trunk Diseases, Reims, France 4th – 7th July 2017 The 10th International Workshop on Grapevine Trunk Diseases (IWGTD) was held at the Centre des Congras, Reims, and organised by the International Council on Grapevine Trunk Diseases (ICGTD) in conjunction with the COST action FA 1303 ‘Sustainable control of grapevine trunk diseases’. The workshop is a focussed meeting covering all aspects of grapevine trunk disease (GTD) research. The overall aim is to facilitate multidisciplinary interactions between scientists to better understand grapevine trunk diseases in terms of the identification of the pathogens involved, their epidemiology and interactions and to develop control methods. The conference brought together 220 participants from over 29 countries, with 62 oral and 92 poster presentations. The scientific program was divided into 5 sessions, pathogen identification and characterisation, epidemiology, plant pathogen interaction, microbial ecology, and disease management, with each of the sessions introduced by a talk reviewing the current status and future research areas. This provided a useful starting point for the subsequently offered papers in each session. It was also clear from these overview talks and the presentations the benefit of international collaboration through the ICGTD in addressing the major disease problem caused by these pathogens.
The session on disease management in nurseries and vineyards was the biggest session, with a special focus on the use of biocontrol agents. I presented a paper in this session on the use of endophytic bacteria isolated from a New Zealand medicinal plant (m. nuka) to reduce Botryosphaeriaceae infection of grapevines. In addition, I presented a second oral paper on the effect of wound volatiles on pre-penetration processes of Botryosphaeriaceae species conidia, and a poster on Botryosphaeriaceae species spore production from infected grapevine stems in New Zealand vineyards, as well as chairing the plant-pathogen interaction session.
Presentations I especially enjoyed included the paper by Laura Mugnai who presented an overview of the current knowledge and future directions in the epidemiology of these pathogens, David Gramaje who covered the main achievements and future prospects in GTDs management and Mark Sosnowski on the effectiveness of different sprayers to apply fungicides in vineyards and the relative cost per hectare of these different options and discussion of the economic benefit to the industry of early interventions in controlling these diseases.
For me, the overriding message from the workshop is that we are challenged with trying to understand an immensely complex disease situation, and if we are to develop effective control strategies that we need to consider the interactions between these pathogens and not, as has been the main focus to date, concentrating on one pathogen in isolation, and also the role of microbial endophytic communities in these interactions.
No trip to the Champagne region would be complete without a field tour of the area which took place on the Thursday, and was co-organised by the Interprofessional Committee on Champagne.
We started the day at a champagne vineyard, where the conference participants learnt about the champagne region, terroir, varietal creation and lastly grapevine diseases especially GTDs.
This was followed by lunch which included a tasting of champagne and local wine. Afterwards a walk along the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay past the various champagne houses concluded with a champagne tasting and a tour of the underground cellars of the Maison de Champagne Mercier, which was a cool relief from the plus 30. C heat outside.
The conference delegates were also introduced to champagne at the reception, where champagne produced from different blends of the main grape varieties were available for tasting.
This was an immensely constructive workshop allowing networking and discussion between researchers which will no doubt result in future collaborations.
I would especially like to acknowledge Florence Fontaine and Vincenzo Mondello, and their team for organising an excellent conference, as well as the BSPP for providing funding to enable me to attend the workshop. The 11th IWGTD will be held in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada in 2019.
Eirian Jones Lincoln University, New Zealand