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International Congress of Plant Pathology 2018: Plant Health in A Global Economy, Boston, USA 29th July – 3rd August 2018
The 11th International Congress of Plant Pathology (ICPP) was held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center with the conference theme of “Plant Health in a Global Economy”. Over 2,400 participants from 84 countries attended the congress which had 75 concurrent sessions, 400 presentations and 1,200 posters. The BSPP gave travel awards to 29 members and below is each member’s personal highlights from the meeting.
I was immediately struck by the strong presence of UK-based plant pathologists at ICPP2018, with about a third of plenary and keynote presentations being presented by them, notably Sophien Kamoun who opened the conference on the first morning and reminded us that “Medicine can cure you one day but plants save you every day”. He advocates that we ensure that plant pathology is a modern and dynamic branch of plant biology, where new knowledge and approaches help us meet new opportunities and challenges. Sophien noted that plant health outbreaks have increased due to global trade, climate change and pathogen host jumps and he believes that genomes of emerging plant pathogens need to be sequenced and released into public domain as per human health (Nextflu) and we need to burst the biomedical bubble, demanding new funding for plant health. In conversation afterwards with Nick Talbot we agreed that when a disease outbreak occurs we have a duty to act and we should use genomics and be open; sharing and releasing data, acting together in a coordinated manner to integrate genomics with other data. We discussed the need for a rapid response framework for disease response and I will be taking this idea forward with the UK Animal and Plant Health Partnership. I also think BSPP could have a role here.
On the Tuesday evening I attended the International Society of Plant Pathology (ISPP) Council meeting on behalf of BSPP and also attended a reception on the Wednesday to celebrate 50 years of the ISPP. Finally, it was great to see so many BSPP members present, all doing their bit on the BSPP stand, encouraging new members to join and giving away the highly sought-after BSPP chopping boards.
Nicola Spence, BSPP Vice-President
The ICPP 2018 conference really was a great experience. The opportunity to listen to plant pathologists from around the world deliver presentations on their top quality research really was eye opening. As a PhD student, it’s easy to focus so much into your own project that sometimes you can forget about all the other aspects of plant pathology that exist. However, the diversity and quality of research that is happening in this field is truly fascinating, and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of what was such an all-encompassing plant pathology event. One of my personal highlights of the conference was the cranberry production tour field trip where were able to discuss with cranberry growers the issues caused by plant pathogens and ways in which they are handled. It demonstrated to me the importance of the work, we as researchers, are doing in helping businesses and farmers grow by increasing outputs and preventing yield losses. I was incredibly fortunate to be selected to give an oral presentation on my research and I am delighted to say it was an incredibly valuable and beneficial experience. It was a privilege to present my work to world leaders in the field. It allowed me also to network and make contacts with people who I have referenced numerous times throughout my thesis which was really cool. Furthermore, the location was fantastic. Being able to look around the beautiful city of Boston, go out drinking with colleagues and lectures at night, and attend socials at places like Fenway park, all together made it a really fun trip. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the conference and am incredibly grateful to the BSPP, my supervisor and my funders for allowing me the opportunity to attend.
Alex Fletcher, The University of Nottingham
ICPP2018 was a great activity to show myself up as plant pathologist and a PhD student. With thousands of attendees and lots of talks and keynote sessions, it meant for me an exclusive way for networking and getting updated information in the context of plant health on the global scale. Thanks to the funds from the BSPP I was able to present a poster showing results of my research titled ‘Determining the antifungal activity of Bacillus species against Fusarium graminearum‘. I could share my research and my point of views with other researches that are working in similar themes. So far, they were surprised about my findings and we discussed ways to improve the research they were doing. From my point of view, it was a paramount experience. I met lots of great people and knew many students, researchers, academics. I was introduced to key researchers and leaders of institutions in USA, UK, AU, France, Africa between others. A great activity was collaborating at the desk of the BSPP, a time to enjoy with other awardees and to discuss the Society with other pathologists. So proud to belong here. Yes, very proud! Other experiences I won’t forget include our intense moment when the fire alarm activated and some minutes later a bunch of plant pathologists were outside of the conference centre. And the marvellous experience of visiting the Museum of Fine Arts or going around the Freedom trail.
Catherine Jimenez-Quiros, The University of Worcester
Very thankful to the BSPP for providing partial travel support to allow me to attend ICPP 2018, my first time attending this conference. As always at such a large meeting, a particular highlight was the opportunity to re-connect with old colleagues from far and wide, as well offering the opportunity to meet others I only knew of through their writing. I enjoyed listening to talks bothfrom within my direct area of expertise as well as some covering areas I knew very little about. This was most evident during the keynotes and plenaries, in which – with approximately one third of all speakers coming from the United Kingdom – the BSPP was very well represented. However, my favourite talk was in a session organised by Dr Stephen Parnell of Salford University, given by Dr Tim Gottwald of the USDA. His talk on using detector dogs for early detection of citrus diseases was well attended and received by the audience, perhaps mainly because of the videos of the dogs in action.
Nik Cunniffe, University of Cambridge
Several presentations were made on contemporary issues under various subthemes. Of particular interest was a very exciting presentation on canine detection of Huanglongbing, which was reported to be faster than Polymerase Chain Reaction with potential application for the detection of Cassava mosaic and brown streak viruses. I received inputs on my poster titled ‘Antifungal activities of some plant extracts against Colletotrichum gloeosporioides (Penz.) the causative agent of anthracnose disease of yam (Dioscorea rotundata Poir.). I met old friends and made new ones. Many participants especially from developing countries who visited the BSPP stand were encouraged to join. Through my participation in the conference, I joined the African Phytopathologists network. I returned to Ghana more enlightened and better connected. I am grateful to the BSPP, for the travel grant.
Elias N. K. Sowley, University for Development Studies, Ghana
Boston was an appropriate venue for the ICPP, since in the mid-nineteenth century the citizens of Boston provided shiploads of food for the victims of the Irish potato famine, caused by Phytophthora infestans (potato late blight). It was an excellent conference, with many presentations providing evidence of the importance of plant health in a global economy. I heard many challenging presentations on the value of modelling to assess effects of plant diseases on crop and amenity plants, and their impacts on mankind. Besides the plenary and concurrent sessions, I attended an Idea Cafe (small group meeting) on Blackleg/Phoma Stem Canker of Canola/ Rapeseed, where we discussed a strategy for standardisation of nomenclature rapeseed R genes and corresponding Leptosphaeria maculans effector (Avr) genes. One evening, I attend-ed the ICPP Plant Disease Epidemiology committee to discuss ways to apply epidemiology to current challenges. The Congress provided many valuable opportunities for informal discussions with fellow plant pathologists from all over the world. I am very grateful to BSPP for part funding my attendance.
Bruce Fitt, University of Hertfordshire
My highlights for ICPP are the three plenary sessions on the first day of the congress, by Sophien Kamoun, Carolee Bull and David Guest. In his presentation, Sophien Kamoun talked about the biomedical bubble, something that I feel hinders progress in plant pathology. Also, he said something really important, that with emerging plant diseases, it cannot be business as usual. We need to relook funding, capturing of data as well as release thereof! Similarly, Carolee linked importance and availability of genome sequences to translational research. As a soft rot pathogen researcher, I also tremendously enjoyed all the talks in the session on soft rot pathogens. This was an excellent session. On Wednesday, Steven Lindow’s talk on Xylella fastidiosa stood out as seeing translation of research to application in real time. Apart from the formal talks, the poster sessions were very informative, and created lots of networking opportunities. Also, other sessions such as one on one (where I had the opportunity to participate, met and talk to two young researchers as well as an established researcher), panel discussions, ideas cafes, POD talks made this ICPP very interesting and dynamic. Thank you to the BSPP for the travel grant.
Lucy Moleleki, University of Pretoria
I was delighted to receive the BSPP Travel Grant. The award helped cover the costs of travelling from South Africa to the International Congress in Plant Pathology. I presented two posters about Cape Citizen Science and shared my PhD research. I also shared our methods of youth engagement in plant pathology, which was previously supported by the BSPP Plant Pathology Promotional Fund. Most importantly, being able to attend the Congress provided the opportunity to network with many professors as a perspective postdoctoral candidate. I established connections and had many one-on-one conversations with many international forest pathology leaders. I was also able to connect fellow students from my program with many researchers that I had met previously at other meetings. In summary, the BSPP Travel Grant helped provide a positive and stimulating experience that was invaluable to my career.
Joey Hulbert, University of Pretoria, South Africa
ICPP is the most comprehensive forum for discussing advances, future opportunities and challenges in relation to plant disease management and I was very excited to attend my first ICPP. I heard many excellent presentations on various aspects of plant pathology and particularly enjoyed the key-note presentation by Prof. Pierre de Wit, which I found to be very inspirational. I had the opportunity to present my research at the poster session, where I had useful discussions with various people, including senior researchers, post graduate students and plant breeders. I attended a short course on networking analysis, which was beneficial as my first handson experience in this subject area. Also, I participated in an Idea Cafe on Blackleg/ Phoma Stem Canker of oilseed rape, where I met and networked with expert scientists in this area of research. This was of a particular interest to me, since I was preparing to work on a new project on phoma stem canker. Overall, the scientific content of the conference highlighted the unique role played by plant pathologists in global food security. Boston, which is home to many world-renowned education institutes, was an excellent choice of venues for ICPP 2018. I would like to thank the BSPP for part funding my attendance at this conference.
Chinthani Karandeni Dewage, University of Hertfordshire
Thanks to this travel grant, I had the opportunity to share my research with the wider plant pathology community congregated at ICPP. I delivered a short talk in a concurrent session dedicated to my field of expertise, pathogen effectors. The attendance to my talk was higher than I expected, and I got some great feedback afterwards. It was very encouraging to see so many colleagues interested in my research! As this event brought together a broad community of plant pathologists that do not gather very often at the same conferences. I could interact with scientists with very different expertise and learn new approaches to solve biological problems related to modern plant pathology. Also, at this meeting I could meet many colleagues working in the US, who are not always able to attend to conferences in EU. Altogether, this conference was a unique opportunity to network and place my research in the wider context of plant pathology. Moreover, the vivid scientific discussions and the quality of the research presented at the meeting helped me to identify the future directions and goals for my scientific career. Although the number of attendees at the conference seemed overwhelming at first, this ensured a non-stop flow of learning, networking and lots of fun during the whole week.
Juan Carlos De la Concepcion, John Innes Centre
Considering this was my first trip to the USA, I was excited not only to attend the ICPP but also to visit America. As anticipated, the conference was a great success. I had the opportunity to meet several renowned scientists from across the globe. I presented a poster in the pathogen dispersal and survival category of the poster sessions, where I had the chance to discuss my work with international researchers from Canada, India, China and Australia amongst others. I also attended the Blackleg Idea Cafe where I got the chance to learn from very learned blackleg researchers. The conference keynote and concurrent sessions were excellent with interesting insights into diseases of global importance, including diseases of crops such as oilseed rape, potato, wheat, bananas and citrus fruits. There were also sessions on chemical control and resistance strategies, both of which were interesting and close to my area of research. Following the conference, I did some sightseeing around Boston, including visits to the prestigious Harvard and MIT universities. After the conference, I also visited other cities in the USA, including New York and some cities in Florida. This conference was a very enlightening experience for me as a PhD student. It increased my confidence in my research and in the possibility of having future international collaborations. I am very obliged to BSPP for partly funding my attendance.
Asna Javaid, University of Hertfordshire
ICPP offered a wide range of plenary and concurrent sessions with lots of interesting talks and posters. It was the largest conference that I have attended, and I especially enjoyed the talks about molecular aspects of plant immunity. One such talk was given by Josephine Maidment (John Innes Centre), who presented the engineering of an immune receptor. Based on crystal structures of AVR-PikF in complex with sHMA1, a host target of AVR-PikC/AVRPikF, the HMA domain of Pik-1 (a rice NLR receptor recognizing other AVR-Pik effectors) was mutated to resemble the HMA domain of the host target proteins. The resulting NLR was able to recognize AVR-PikC and induce defence responses in N. benthamiana. Another interesting presentation was given by Arne Stensvand (NIBIO, Norway), who showed how fungal diseases can be suppressed by applying UV light to crops. After the talk there were a lot of questions about the possible adverse effects on the crops themselves or their microbiomes. So far, there is no clear answer to these questions, and it will be interesting to see if UV treatment really can be implemented without harming the crops and thus lead to a reduction in pesticide use.
Lotte B. A. Gersby, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
I had a very productive and memorable congress. It was interesting growing my knowledge learning how to work with other plant pathologists in the global plant pathology community. This better prepares me for my future plant heath challenges. I had the privilege of successfully presenting a poster and organising one of the workshops. In addition, I was also invited as a Phytopathologists of Distinction, to give a pod talk titled ” The Phytopathological Society of Nigeria: A Story of Awesome Combination of Passion, Sacrifice, Faith and the Power of The Net. Among the audience during my presentation were Dr Greg Johnson (ISPP President), Prof Sally Miller (Past President, APS), Prof Jean Leach (Incoming ISPP Present), Prof Kira L. Bowen (Incoming APS President) and other eminent plant pathologists. It was fulfilling meeting with Eric Boa and other BSPP travel award recipients at the BSPP stand; it was a honour for me to make my little contribution at the stand. I am grateful to the BSPP this award which enabled me to participate and contribute to ICPP. It will be my honour to volunteer my time to the society, whenever possible, in the nearest future.
Sylvester O. Aigbe, Ambrose Alli University, Nigeria
One of the speakers whom I found gave a fascinating talk at this conference was David Guest from the University of Sydney. David works with cocoa farmers in Papua New Guinea. He highlighted that one should consider farmers’ health alongside providing them with the technology. The majority of the farmers suffer from ill health and poor eyesight. This limits them greatly in their ability to carry out the necessary tasks needed to maintain healthy crop. He emphasised that improving farmers’ health will lead to better crop health. Boston is a lively, vibrant city with plenty of Irish pubs! My personal highlight was getting to know other ICPP attendees who also received the BSPP travel awards. We all spent an afternoon at the Natural History Museum at Harvard and went for walk around Harvard and the MIT campus. Joining BSPP has enabled me to widen my network both personally and professionally, which was fantastic.
Trisna Tungadi, University of Cambridge
I really enjoyed some of the concurrent sessions. In the ‘New Insights into Rice- Pathogens Interactions’ session I found the talk given by Prof. Barbara Valent particularly interesting. Her talk ‘Merging foundational and field research: lessons from the ancient and emerging blast diseases on rice and wheat’ covered the mechanism that the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae uses to deliver effectors. The fungus forms an appressorium to get into the plant cells and forms biotrophic interfacial complexes (BICs) to secrete cytoplasmic effectors. Apoplastic effectors are secreted from invasive hyphae through the conventional secretory pathway. She then compares the effectors repertoire in the rice (MoO) and wheat (MoT) pathotypes of M. oryzae and shows that they share common putative effectors, but MoT also contains minichromosomes rich in transposons and putative effectors. Prof. Nick Talbot also gave a talk entitled ‘Investigating the biology of plant tissue invasion by therice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae‘, where he reports the role of a mitogenactivated protein (MAP) kinase, Pmk1, in preventing plant callose deposition at plasmodemata and controlling hyphal constriction required for fungal growth in rice cells.
Ana Machado, Rothamsted Research
The meeting included a numbers of exciting events such as useful workshops about dealing with pathogen and plant interactions. In addition, research presented covered several areas such as identify the resource of gene defence in plants against pathogens, gene silencing by RNA interference, resistance gene transformation and biocontrol pathogens. The poster session was the most interesting event for me with around 100 posters in my area of research, microbe and plant interaction, out of the 1,251 posters. It made me meet other researchers, build professional relationships and identify opportunities for cooperation that will be especially valuable when I return to my country, supporting my aims after my PhD. There was a distinct presence of associations that concerned microbe and plant interactions, most notably the BSPP and the American Phytopathological Society (APS). Furthermore, I attended presentations from companies that provide the necessary products that are effective and cheaper for researchers and laboratories. Overall, the trip was very enjoyable. It also gave me amazing opportunities to get out some PhD related stress and explore beautiful areas in Boston.
Saddam BABA, Newcastle University
My work focuses on the interactions between foodborne human pathogenic bacteria and their plant hosts and my main interest was in sessions relating to food safety (pre- and post-harvest). One of the real benefits of such a big conference is the coverage of topics, for example Lise Korsten (Pretoria, S. Africa) explained how we can learn lessons for the recent, large scale outbreak of Listeria from polony (sausage) for safety in edible crop supply chains. Indeed, interdisciplinary was a recurrent theme, particularly in our session on ‘the role of plant pathology in food safety’, where I was delighted to see such a large and diverse audience for my keynote presentation. There was, understandably, a strong emphasis on microbiome research, evident not only in the dedicated sessions, but elsewhere too. This is reflective of our progressive understanding of the whole system, even for those used to taking a reductionist approach for our favourite pathogen, with an obvious shift from taxonomical descriptions to functional analysis. It was nicely summed up as the holobiome by Linda Thomashow (USDA-ARS), who showed how plants select an optimal microbiota to cope with abiotic stresses. Another exciting emerging area is in light responses and how this aspect can be exploited for disease control as well as other traits.
Nicola J Holden, James Hutton Institute
Twenty internationally distinguished plant pathologists were invited to give plenary talks. One which caught my attention was by Francisco J. Reifschneider (EMBRAPA, Brasilia) whose talk on ‘A healthy future for plant health’ emphasised scientific and technological breakthroughs in different areas, from artificial intelligence, robotics to spectroscopy and use of UAV in early detection, prevention and management of plant diseases. I presented my talk on ‘Spectral characterisation of bacterial leaf blight of rice through spectroscopy and remotely sensed multispectral imagery’. I was the last presenter and presented the paper very well. At the end of the session, all the presenters as well as those from the session on remote sensing were invited for a group meeting and had the idea of organising a pioneering group in remote sensing, artificial intelligence, spectroscopy and UAV and its application to plant pathology. A session on ‘Innovative technologies for monitoring emerging diseases’ was my prioritybecause the topics are similar with our present work. The talk of M. Chaudhary (India) was so intriguing as intelligence gathering were already being used in emerging diseases in other countries. I would like to thank the BSPP, the ICPP Bursary Award Committee and the Central Luzon State University for financial assistance for giving me the opportunity to present my paper in this prestigious conference. The conference was extremely interesting and I was delighted to be able to attend and discuss my research with international experts.
Ronaldo T. Alberto, Central Luzon State University, Philippines
I am grateful to BSPP for giving me the privilege to attend the ICPP through the award of Travel Grant. I presented a poster presentation on shelf life enhancement of fresh cut fruits of avocado treated with the essential oils from parts of Artemisia afra. The meeting provided me with the opportunity to showcase the research I have been doing and also gave me a platform to interact and picked from several studies of interest to me. The platform provides an opportunity to meet researchers that we can collaborate together. The materials presented have been turned into full manuscripts and submitted to the International Society for Horticultural Science. I can adopt the style of the organisation of the meeting whenever there is any meeting I intend to organise in my home country. I promise to put into use the knowledge gathered at the meeting for the development of my career and the training of students. Thank you.
Oluwagbenga Adeogun, University of Lagos, Nigeria
This was by far the biggest conference I’ve attended and it was a really inspiring and motivating experience and I am very thankful for the support from BSPP. As a result of attending I have grown in confidence and gained a broader appreciation for the work of plant pathologists in research and industry in different parts of the world. My first highlight was the satellite workshop on oomycetes, which had talks on topics ranging from the importance of ‘back to basics’ microbiological techniques as well as metabarcoding and generating meaning from large datasets by incorporating functional traits into the analyses. My second highlight was meeting USDA Forest Service scientists Ned Klopfenstein and Mee-Sook Kim who share my research interests in intra- genus competition between Armillaria species. My final highlight was getting to know so many early career scientists, including other scientists on BSPP travel grants. Everyone was so open and willing to share their opinions and experiences, and I learned a lot from these interactions. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to present the work of RHS scientists to such a wide audience and hope that the new contacts made can lead to productive collaborations in the future.
Jassy Drakulic, RHS Wisley
My first ICPP was in Beijing when I was a postgraduate student in the University of Hertfordshire. After five years, I was excited to meet up with the group that I had worked with before in the UK and happy to hear that most of them will finish their PhD’s soon. It was indeed a great time to see my former supervisors, Prof. Bruce Fitt and Dr Avice Hall, both still active and inspiring as always, especially Dr Avice Hall who is semi retired. I enjoyed the fungal foray trip and collecting interesting species of fungi found growing naturally in College woods, The University of New Hampshire. It was also amazing to explore the living museum Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University with over 15,000 plants where each has a story to tell. Not to miss was the top of Peters Hill which offers one of Boston’s most beautiful view’s at 240 feet high. I saw plenty of beautiful symptoms of diseases and it seems they need more plant pathology advice. I would say it was worth the 22 hour journey to be in Boston, for a very well organised meeting and the enormous range of topics which were equally interesting. I was also delighted to meet Dr Brett Summerell and congratulate him being made a Fellow of the American Phytopathology Society. The last time I saw him was in 2009 attending a Fusarium workshop in USM Penang, Malaysia.
Siti Nordahliawate (Dahlia) Mohamed Sidique, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Malaysia
Attending the ICPP this year has been one of the highlights of my PhD. Attending this conference built my confidence as a scientist, and really helped me see how my project fitted into the field. The talks and informal discussions with other scientists gave me lots of new ideas for where my research could go – unfortunately probably more than I’ll fit into the final year of my PhD! I was accepted to give a short talk in the concurrent session ‘new insights into rice-pathogen interactions’, which was terrifying at the time, but was a fantastic experience and really sparked discussion with other scientists in the field. The conference provided an excellent opportunity to see many leading researchers in plant pathology present their current research. There were numerous exceptional plenary talks, which focused not just on the biology of plant disease but also on the socio-economic context of plant pathology and highlighted the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to solving global challenges relating to plant health. I am very grateful to the BSPP for providing the funding that allowed me to attend this conference.
Josephine Maidment, John Innes Centre
Blackleg and soft rot diseases of potato, caused by bacteria belonging to the Pectobacterium and Dickeya species, continue to cause major crop losses worldwide, and has a particular impact on seed potatoes. Over the last 5 years, the US has seen increasing levels of disease caused by Dickeya species and US scientists have been active in networking with others around the world to find answers. The session entitled ‘Emerging issues and pathogens causing blackleg and soft rot of potatoes worldwide’ was therefore very timely, bringing together experts and those new to these diseases from around the world. Presentations were mainly from scientists with a long history of working on the disease, giving the latest research and practical suggestions for control. In my presentation, I described the James Hutton Institute’s latest research on seed versus environmental sources of contamination. One person that stood out in the session was Slovenia post-doc Spela Alic, who gave an excellent presentation with a lot of well deserved confidence. The sheer size of the conference, and its many sections, was greatly enhanced by the use of a phone app that gave a programme guide that allowed individuals to set and track their own schedule. It also made it very simple to arrange meetings and with others at the meeting. Due to my role as the Director of the Scottish Centre of Expertise for Plant Health, I used the app to ensure that I attended as many presentations as I could, particularly around Xylella and other pests and diseases that threaten the plant health security of the UK. Many discussions were held and lots of new contacts made during these 5 days. Boston is a nice place to visit, and the conference organisation was fantastic. Well done ICPP and many thanks to BSPP for helping to fund my trip and allowing me to make new and important contacts for the future.
Ian Toth, James Hutton Institute
This was not only my first trip to Boston but also my first experience of America. It was everything I expected and more, especially with the Puerto Rican Festival in full force outside the convention centre as I arrived to register. The conference was fantastic; the vast array of plants, diseases and novel technologies that were presented was remarkable. I particularly enjoyed attending the concurrent sessions about innovative technologies. These presentations showcased the enormous capabilities that high-resolution aerial imagery partnered with remote sensing could have on plant disease detection and management globally. I presented a poster at the conference. This gave me the opportunity to share and discuss my research with other PhD students and researchers from around the world. Additionally, I attended the Blackleg/ Phoma Stem Canker of Canola/ Rapeseed Idea Cafe that provided me the chance to meet and introduce myself to well-respected scientists from within my field, helping me to grow in confidence and improve my international connections. I very much appreciate the BSPP part funding my attendance.
James Fortune, University of Hertfordshire
I want to thank the BSPP for the opportunity to participate in the ICPP, where I presented part of my PhD thesis with a poster presentation ‘Diversity of Venturia inaequalis in Latvia’. Participation in the congress had given me the possibility to enlarge the scope of my knowledge regarding plant pathology and of the latest’s advances and innovations in diseases detection and plant protection. The congress made it possible for me to get to meet new colleagues from around the world, working those in the same field as me. It has been a good chance and the opportunity to talk to them one-on-one about what they are working on. In addition, the information acquired will facilitate my PhD, giving me new perspectives on my work and ideas of how to enhance my own work. The concurrent sessions, workshops, short talks and posters sessions at the congress were valuable sources for my learning, exchanging of ideas, establishing new relationships and the opportunity to cooperate in future by exchanging experience and knowledge. All the knowledge that I got are very important to me, for my PhD and further work.
Olga Sokolova, Latvia University of Agriculture, Latvia
I found attending the ICPP conference a professionally rewarding experience. In addition to socialising with colleagues from other institutions I found listening to presentations very informative, and the ability to ask questions added a different spin on the ideas, otherwise found only in the papers. From attend-ing these talks it inspired many new research ideas that I have since put into practice in my own PhD, and exposed me to different styles of presentations (both excellent and terrible). However, the most valuable aspect of this conference was meeting people in the hallways, at the poster presentations, and over lunch, and the conversations and ideas that came from these informal meetings. It gave me an opportunity to talk about my research and receive constructive advice on how I can improve my science. As I intend to stay in research, attending this conference has given me the ability to make invaluable connections that I can use in the future.
Brian Ó Loinsigh, The University of Nottingham
As usual the scale of ICPP2018 afforded the opportunity to attend a wide range of sessions dealing with diverse aspects of plant pathology. The theme of ‘Plant Health in a Global Economy’ with respect to the need to address food security was very evident, particularly in the plenary presentations. Sessions of interest to me included those on detection and diagnosis, where I was able to catch up on developments both in infield detection and the use of E-probes.
I was also interested to learn about microbial interactions and resilience for plant health, for example the talk of Lucius Tamm dealing with the management of soil suppressiveness for plant health as influenced by agricultural practice. I was delighted to chair the session entitled ‘Potato Late Blight: Global Research and Networking’ which included colleagues from around the world and facilitated new connections with students and postdocs. Interest at the BSPP stand was good and hopefully a few new members were recruited.
Alison Lees, The James Hutton Institute
Sitting on a shelf above my desk are a slightly dusty abstract book and proceedings of the first ICPP at Imperial College, London in July 1968. I have Jim Duncan to thank for not throwing them out. Perhaps they survived for nostalgic reasons, but they certainly provide interesting reading. Thankfully the ‘Arrangements for wives’ who were entertained while their husbands were on excursions to research centres have gone; the Boston meeting had a ‘family friendly team’! The first ICPP meeting was a move by plant pathologists to escape from under the wings of botany and, 50 years later, I feel this meeting of 2400 scientists from 84 countries justifies that move. There was a lot of top-class science to see in one week and I was thankful for the excellent meeting app. It made navigating the many concurrent sessions way easier than juggling bulky paper copies. I flag just a few talks that struck a chord with me. A plenary talk ‘The answer is chocolate’ by David Guest (University of Sydney) was inspirational; a stark reminder to put ourselves in grower’s shoes to really understand how grower training will have a positive impact on cocoa tree health. Dave Hodson (CIMMYT) provided an excellent overview of the benefits of a global strategy to track wheat stem rust via accurate recording, data standardisation and communicating with breeders. Sarah Gurr (University of Exeter) gave a crystal clear warning in ‘Metadata: Monitoring the Threat of Plant Disease’, predicting the seemingly inevitable spread of pests and pathogens marching to the drum of a changing climate. Her urgent plea for us, funders and employers to train of the next generation of plant pathologists was well received. Lastly, a striking illustration of the power of canine detection was provided by Tim Gottwald (USDA ARS). Who knew a dog could detect the equivalent of 1 drop of blood in 25 Olympic swimming pools? They were certainly impressive at detecting citrus Huanglongbing – way ahead of PCR and visual symptoms. I thank the BSPP for giving me the opportunity to attend this excellent meeting.
David Cooke, The James Hutton Institute
I was privileged enough to be awarded a BSPP Travel Award to attend ICPP2018, and also invited to give a special seminar at a public event at Harvard as part of the meeting. At the very outset of this report I would like to say that Boston and the ICPP/APS organising committee did themselves proud. It was an excellent meeting in terms of organisation, logistics and location, all backed up by fantastic science and networking opportunities.
I have been to many ICPP meetings over many years, and for some I have come away with a buzz about a certain breakthrough in science; sometimes with nothing particularly new, but impression of lots going on. This ICPP meeting was different, very very different for me. I tried to sum up my lasting impressions of the whole meeting in a tweet that got a fair amount of coverage, I will leave the original language in, but apologise to those with a tender ear for such words.
Tweet: My take home messages (1) “the shit just got serious” we’ve got to deliver ASAP (2) “the kids are our future” fantastic next gen coming along Why was this my lasting impression, well a whole multitude of factors seem to be coming to a head, a perfect storm so to speak, with unbelievably serious consequences, a seriousness in plant pathology I have never witnessed at this global level before. Pathogens spreading fast into new areas, resistance breaking down, loss of chemical control measures both biologically and legislatively, still huge opposition to proven safe technologies, appearance of new pathogens and strains. The list could go on and on.
I myself was invited to take part in an open public meeting presentation and Q&A session at Harvard entitled, ‘Crop diseases that threaten global food security (and your breakfast) where talks covering the potential and very real complete loss of some crops such as coffee, oranges, bananas. Though across the whole ICPP 2018 meeting, just about every other important crop worldwide, was reported to be facing similar serious challenges. Therefore, it is a very important time for plant pathology, and a very important time to train the next generation of pathologists. But not all gloom and doom, as the science that was presented by the young scientists at this meeting was outstanding, and their enthusiasm and dedication to their subject area gives me a great deal of hope looking forward.
Professor Gary Foster, University of Bristol