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The annual Molecular Biology of Plant Pathogens meeting, which was financially supported by BSPP was held at the University of Bath this year. As an international MSc student, (I travelled from Wageningen to Scotland to work in the lab of Paul Birch), I was given the opportunity to attend this meeting and present some of the work I did at SCRI. BSPP generously provided me with a travel grant to support my visit to this meeting.
On Tuesday September 11 a notable part of our corridor took off to Edinburgh to catch the early flight to Bristol, from where we had a nice car trip through the English countryside to Bath. Just before lunch we arrived and took our first trip (of many) to the Parade Bar, also known as the heart of the university campus (it’s supposed to be the premier place to be seen!). With a nice variety of house cocktails (choose between ‘Sour Puss’, ‘Minty Mudslide’ and ‘Sex on the Beach’) an interesting visit was at hand.
At 1 o’clock in the afternoon Prof. Sarah Gurr and Dr. Matt Dickinson opened the meeting, after which the floor was handed over to the various speakers for the first session. In this session, various topics were discussed, including the role of protein kinase C (PKC) signalling in Magnaporthe grisea virulence (Solange Montalcini) and bioinformatic analysis of a micro-region in Fusarium species, a fungus causing ear blight on barley (Andrew Beacham). Furthermore, Sian Deller proposed a potential role for ROS (reactive oxygen species) production in Mycosphaerella graminicola virulence and Severine Grouffaud showed that the RxLxE motif for translocation of effector proteins in Plasmodium also functions as a translocation signal when replacing the RxLR motif of Avr3a.
The final session on Tuesday touched on some diverse subjects, including M. grisea genes involved in germination (Maeve Price), characterization of a sterol C14a-demethylase (an enzyme from Podosphaera fusca that indirectly causes membrane disruption) (F. J. Lopez Ruiz), and finally Aziz Mithani described a new program which uses hypergraphs to do in situ amino acid assimilation pathway rebuilding.
Finally, the moment everyone was waiting for: Leighton Pritchard and David Cooke’s soft fruit and hard liquor talk. Starting nice and smooth with some vodka infused with soft fruit, it finished with some of the most terrible alcoholic products being sold in the UK, including the most dreadful drink ever: Buckfast! After some more drinks (fruit wines, Maddox and fruit-vodka) and a nice dinner, for most of us the day ended as it started, at the Parade bar.
Two sessions were planned for Wednesday morning, covering a total of 9 subjects, with much emphasis on ubiquitination: In plant defense (Ros Taylor), the role of AtBTBT1 in HR development in Arabidopsis (Joelle Mesmar) and cell death regulation in tobacco by NtCDD1 by means of ubiquitination (Richard Ewan). In addition, Dong Wang discussed how acetylcholinesterase inhibitors can be used to suppress nematode growth on plants while Jamie Smith focused on plant response to nematode infection. Then, Hazel McLellan discussed the role of cathepsin B-like proteases in plant defense and Sarah Lee demonstrated how QTL analysis can be used to determine resistance to Fusarium by measuring DON (deoxynivalenol mycotoxin) levels. Finally two methods by which bacteria manipulate host defense and recognition were discussed by Kate Morrissey and Ronnie de Jonge (respectively on EPS layer and type three secretion system).
I’d like to thank the organizers, Matt Dickinson and John Jones for these very interesting sessions and allowing me to present some of my work. In addition, I thank the BSPP again for funding my stay at the University of Bath. To conclude, for those of you who are interested: we did end up in the pond in front of the Parade Bar some time later in the week.
Ronnie de Jonge, SCRI / University of Wageningen (The Netherlands)