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BSPP2022: Microbial lifestyles: from symbionts to pathogens
Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK
5th – 7th September 2022
I was delighted to be provided with a travel grant from the BSPP to attend the meeting BSPP2022 – Microbial lifestyles: from symbionts to pathogens. This conference provided me with the opportunity to present work from my PhD project to a room full of established plant pathologists. I also was able to attend fascinating talks which focused on the plant microbiome and endophytes. This event was the first international conference which I had attended on my own and it was safe to say I was a little apprehensive flying over. Luckily I could not have been met with a more friendly and welcoming group of attendees.
I was delighted to participate in The PH Gregory session which is run specifically to showcase the work of early career researchers in the area of plant pathology. The biggest benefit of this session for me was that it brought together people starting out their research in this area and allowed me to make valuable connections to people I will hopefully continue to see at conferences throughout my career. All of the participants in this session were excellent and produced impressive presentations for the conference. I greatly enjoyed hearing about all of the exciting research that is underway. A huge congratulations to the winner of the best presentation, Dr Rafal Zdrzalek, from the Banfield lab. Rafal gave a great presentation of his work on engineering novel recognition specificities through the integration of potential host targets into NLR backgrounds.
The conference also contained a great number of talks from researchers who are already well established in their fields. It was inspiring to hear about the work of so many different labs and I certainly learned a lot from their presentations. It is difficult to highlight just one session, but I particularly enjoyed the session on ‘Communities and their Exploitation’. Iñigo Zabalgogeazcoa (CSIC Salamanca, Spain) gave an interesting presentation where he discussed if fungal components of the microbiome of Festuca pruinose were helping the plant to adapt to its unhospitable environment. Their work suggest that the core microbiome members of this plant, Fusarium oxysporum and Diaporthe atlantica are acting as latent saprotroph’s which help to recycle nutrients which can be reabsorbed by the plant. They also looked at how these beneficial endophytes can be applied to other agricultural crops. The application of Diaporthe atlantica to Tritordeum and tomato plants resulted in enhanced responses to salinity stress. I enjoyed this presentation as it was a very clear example of how we can exploit features of plants grown in inhospitable conditions to improve the health of important agricultural plants. This is an exciting concept which I believe has the potential to lead to significant scientific discoveries in the area of plant pathology. Another great talk was presented by Professor Fiona Doohan (UCD). Fiona discussed their groups work looking at Fusarium responsive gene clusters in wheat and how they can use these clusters to identify genes associated with Fusarium head blight disease resistance.
Another highlight was the conference dinner hosted at the biscuit factory. The conference organisers really went above and beyond to provide the attendees with an enjoyable night which really helped to solidify connections made throughout the conference. I am very fortunate to have been able to attend this conference, I believe this experience has greatly added to my confidence both in presenting and networking with other researchers in my field. A huge thank you to the BSPP for supporting my trip to Newcastle!
Maynooth University, Ireland