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Antibes Juan-Les-Pins, France
1st – 6th May 2022
The International Congress of Nematology (ICN) is an international symposium organised every six years that is attended by nematologists from all over the world and different societies of Nematology such as SON, ESN and ONTA. It is the biggest conference for Nematology and six hundred and eighty-two nematologists from 57 countries attended this year. Thirty-one parallel sessions with 288 oral presentations, 11 workshops, 12 keynote speakers, and more than 500 poster presentations were included. The conference covered several topics such as biodiversity, ecology, genetics, management, biocontrol, regulatory/quarantine, phylogeny and taxonomy. It was full of interesting topics and was difficult to choose which one to attend, but luckily we had also the recordings of all sessions and we can watch what we missed during parallel sessions.
The welcome reception and congress registration provided an excellent opportunity to meet again in person following two years of pademic. It was wonderful to meet colleagues and students after such difficult time and I will never forget the smiles and happiness to be again together talking about our beloved scientific discipline. During the pandemic, social media became part of our life to stay in contact and we started new friendships and activities through twitter and other social media, without meeting each other in person. In 2020, during the first lockdown, a group called Active Plant Nematologist (APN) was established and since then, I have acted as administrator in collaboration with other guys from US, South Africa, Portugal and Vietnam. We met on line during the pandemic and we organised a very interesting webinar with more than 500 attendees from all over the world. ICN2022 was finally the great occasion to meet in person and personally was the most emotional part of the conference. In addition, we discussed new ideas to promote APN and Nematology for general public and we talked for hours about our future and opportunities in Nematology. Pandemic was of course difficult, however we definitely made something exclusive under the storm!
The conference was opened by the first plenary session with Dr Fatma Kaplan presenting research on the microgravity effect on entomopathogenic nematode ability to find and kill insects. Her passion to talk about the experiences sending nematodes into space engaged the audience. The next talk was delivered by Dr Pierre Abad regarding the interaction between plant and root-knot nematodes bringing us into the world of nematode parasitism proteins, genes for new resistance strategies and factors affecting the control of RKN in cropping systems. Pierre showed us how RKN is a unique model system to study the links between variation in genome structure, reproduction and adaptation to enviroment and hosts. The conference continued with parallel sessions and one of the most interesting for me was Phylogenetics/Phylogenomics with latest updated on the Phylum Nematoda. It was excellent to listen the progress in these studies and areas where we need to continue research. This was followed by the workshop on DNA barcoding of nematodes where we discussed the current problems in databases and what we would need to do to make good progress in the future. Communication between labs was one of the main discussion, and new objectives were developed. This workshop gave me the opportunity to meet some molecular nematologists and note ideas for future collaborations regarding DNA barcoding and genome assemblies for plant-parasitic nematodes. The session Future of Nematology: legislation, education and training was also important to attend as this gave an overview of the opportunities that are available and what we still need to carry out for students and young nematologists.
During this conference I had the opportunity to present two posters from my PhD at Harper Adams University: one poster summarised ‘Detection and distribution of Pratylenchus spp. in UK potato fields’ and the other outlined ‘Invasion and reproduction of Pratylenchus penetrans on Maris Peer potatoes’. In addition, one year and half ago I joined Fera Science Ltd. (UK) as molecular nematologist, for that I had also the opportunity to represent the laboratory during this conference. I presented a 5-minutes poster presentation about ‘Rapid detection and quantification of plant-parasitic nematodes from large volumes of soil’ and a 20 minutes oral presentation about movement of plant-parasitic nematodes associated with the turf industry, focussing on the findings of M. fallax in different football grounds in UK. It has been a fantastic experience that I will never forget!
We had also the opportunity to have a lovely day tour of Monaco visiting also the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco that was absolutely fantastic!
I really would like to thank the BSPP for the travel award that gave me the opportunity to attend this valuable conference, meet old friends and make new ones, and increase my network with other nematologists. I look forward to attend the next conference in Nematology and hopefully present results from these new collaborations!
Dr Valeria Orlando
Fera Science Ltd.