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Saint Malo in Brittany was the destination of the Brassica 2018 Conference. A pertinent location as Brittany is the leading producer of vegetables in France, featuring cauliflower, Romanesco, broccoli, kale and cabbage. The “Grand Large” convention centre was located next to the beach, providing stunning vistas. Over 200 delegates from 20 countries provided ample opportunities for discussion and international collaboration. Topics included recent advances in genomics, molecular and trait genetics, nutrient use efficiency, abiotic and biotic stress tolerance, high-throughput phenotyping and product quality. The UK was well represented by the third largest group of researchers.
Pathogen interactions were particularly of interest to Henrik; this topic featured the largest number of posters with five of them from the University of Hertfordshire. Henrik also presented a flash talk featuring research with Canadian colleagues from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon. Unexpectedly, his colleague Dr Hossein Borhan revealed information about the identity of the Rlm9 resistance gene that operates against the phoma stem canker pathogen Leptosphaeria maculans. Henrik adjusted his story in response to this new finding and reflected on the genome analysis of candidate resistance genes that was just published in PLoS ONE. Henrik also attended a workshop on clubroot and an Idea Cafe on blackleg R gene nomenclature that was continued at the International Congress of Plant Pathology in Boston.
Henrik and his PhD student Katherine Noel met with Prof. Keiichi Okazaki to discuss collaborative research on pathogen resistance in Brassica rapa. Katherine’s research on temperature sensitivity of resistance against L. maculans was discussed with her industrial partner Dr Steffen Rietz from NPZ Innovation. We also met other colleagues from the UK, France, China and Australia. The interactive atmosphere provided additional opportunities to make new acquaintances. There was sufficient time for social activities, including evening outings at local restaurants to get to know participants better.
The ambiance and beautiful scenery along the coast lent itself to take some nice pictures. Henrik decided to stay in Saint Malo for a few more days. He had a tasty meal after a boat trip to Dinar. The local excitement about the FIFA World Cup could be witnessed. There was also an opportunity for a swim in the sea despite an upcoming summer flu.
University of Hertfordshire