16th European Fusarium Seminar, Rome, Italy
12th – 15th June 2023
I also enjoyed attending the EFS16 hosted by Sapienza University, Italy, where apart from the well-presented talks at the conference we were able to see the wonderful city of Rome with its rich history. The conference was attended by more than 150 international delegates and there were plenty of opportunities for networking and discussions on the latest of Fusarium research, ranging from fungal biology and epidemiology to mycotoxin exposure, toxicology and mitigation strategies.
Many talks focussed on new effector discovery with their functional characterisation, diagnostics, biological and mycotoxin control. I specifically enjoyed the presentation by Fiona Doohan (UCD, Ireland), in the session on pathogenesis and plant – host interaction, summarising many years of her research on resistance genes and the discovery of genetic clusters for deoxynivalenol and Fusarium head blight in cereals. She focussed on the development of new RNA-seq based pipeline for the identification of FHB-associated disease responsive gene clusters leading to the discovery of non-homologous metabolic genes previously uncharacterised in wheat but associated with potent antimicrobial activity in other plant species. I also had the pleasure of meeting in person Dilantha Fernando from the University of Manitoba, Canada who recently took over the role of Senior Editor of Plant Pathology from Matt Dickinson at the University of Nottingham. Dilantha presented during the session on disease control and forecasting models and gave a summary of current research on Fusarium diseases in Canada. He highlighted current work on Fusarium Head Blight of wheat and barley and Fusarium ear rot of corn, toxin production, species diversity and chemotype monitoring, in addition to the development of forecasting models for fungicide spray-decision making by Canadian farmers during flowering. It is interesting that in Canada, F. poae was identified as a predominant species on barley raising questions of the effect of this overlooked pathogen on malt quality issues.
From the UK delegates, John Clarkson, University of Warwick, presented the latest work from his lab on the identification, pathogenomics and resistance to Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lactucae in lettuce, whilst I gave a talk on our work in progress on the mechanisms of aphid (Sitobion avenae)-induced plant defence suppression exploited by Fusarium graminearum in wheat. On the same topic of host-mediated interactions between F. graminearium and aphids, Samuel Asamoah (BBSRC DTP student, University of Nottingham) won the poster prize from Toxins for his work on Fusarium-modulated behaviour of another important cereal aphid-Rhopalosiphum padi, which in contrast to Sitobion avenae, is recruited by F. graminearium for increased virulence in wheat. On the last day Samuel and other poster-prize winners gave flash talks, which was a great way to raise their profile as early career researchers and make new connections.
Prof Rumiana Ray
University of Nottingham
IMAGE ABOVE: BSPP delegates, from left to right: Rumiana Ray (University of Nottingham, UK), John Clarkson (University of Warwick, UK), Fiona Doohan (University College Dublin, Ireland), Dilantha Fernando (University of Manitoba, Canada) and Samuel Asamoah (University of Nottingham, UK) enjoying the exhibit at the Museum of Classical Art, Sapienza Campus.
Samuel Asamoah (University of Nottingham), the winner of the Student Poster Prize by Toxins at EFS16 with his PhD supervisor, Rumiana Ray (University of Nottingham)