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FEBS EMBO 2014 Conference, Paris, France 30th August – 4th September 2014
The FEBS EMBO 2014 is an international joint conference hosted by The Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS), EMBO – Excellence in life sciences, and the French Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SFBBM) which was specially marked as the 50th anniversary of the FEBS and EMBO in 2014. The conference brought almost 3,000 participants from all across the world including leading researchers, scientists, post-docs and postgraduate students together with private business sectors to discuss the latest scientific findings in the life sciences.
Throughout the six day conference, over 20 keynote speeches were given by various scientists held in different plenary lectures and plenary sessions. The conference programme consisted of talks and poster presentations (more than 2,000 posters were presented) from a wide variety of areas, from cell biology, molecular biology, synthetic biology, microbiology to cancer biology right through to health science and human diseases. Amongst the various parallel concurrent sessions, there was one focusing on host pathogen interactions/ bacterial pathogenesis. This session covered a wide variety of pathogenicity studies in various microbial pathogens and plant/animal hosts, offering 5 oral presentations including 118 posters on plant/animal pathology related topics.
Since my current research interest focuses on RNA silencing, listening to speakers from the research group ‘Institut de Biologie Moleculaire des Plantes’, France and the ‘Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)’, Switzerland has provided me with valuable insights into the regulation of RNA silencing as an anti-viral defense response via small non-coding RNAs (sRNAs) in plants. The research groups have identified a specific receptor-like kinase (RLK) that show the attributes of a bona fide RNA silencing movement factor from cell-to-cell and over long distance through the phloem. They have also found that virus infection occurs significantly more rapidly in the rlk mutant than in wild-type plants, revealing an important role of mobile sRNAs as immunising agents during antiviral silencing. A presentation given by Zipfel from the Sainsbury Laboratory was one of the topics related to plant pathology focusing on plant innate immunity. The speaker described the regulation of early receptor kinase-mediated immune signaling in arabidopsis, leucine-rich repeat receptor kinases (LRR-RKs) FLS2 and EFR, which are the pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) for bacterial flagellin (or flg22) and elongation factor Tu (or elf18), respectively.
My attendance at this conference provided me with an excellent opportunity to talk to the expert speakers in a field of study closely related to my current research project. Furthermore, I have acquired a lot of additional knowledge from the poster sessions, particularly on the topic of ‘host defense molecules’ and ‘fungal virulence factors’ (for example, a novel inhibitor which directly inhibits hypha elongation factor called fungalysin has been discovered). This finding would be very beneficial for controlling fungal pathogen invasion both in plants and animals. Studies on defense mechanisms in plant to fungal pathogen have also been widely investigated. One example is a study on the resistance to Oidium neolycopersici in tomato plants induced by Oligandrin and a-amino butyric acid.
Due to its interdisciplinary content and large number of participants, this conference has been highly beneficial to me. It has allowed me to enhance my scientific knowledge in my existing area of study as well as strengthen my current network of people. I also thought the conference was very well organised and the quality of the talks both from invited/selected speakers and poster presentations, excellent. I would like to thank the BSPP for the travel funding award I received to attend this conference and for the opportunity to present my work.
Lakkhana Kanhayuwa, Imperial College London