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Plant Immunity: Pathways and Translation, Montana, USA 8th – 11th April 2013
The Keystone meeting on Plant Immunity took place in the stunning mountains of Big Sky in Montana and brought together nearly 150 leading participants from 21 different countries around the world. The size of the meeting and the presence of around 50 students together with leading scientists and crop science companies, allowed a very welcoming environment for discussion on the latest advances in understanding the plant immunity system.
Plants have a sophisticated immune system where each cell can respond individually to a pathogen attack. During this four day meeting speakers presented recent advances in understanding how plant mechanisms allow surface and intracellular pathogen recognition and signalling, to insights on how pathogens perturb plant immunity, how plant and microbes co-evolve as well as how basic knowledge on plant immunity can be translated on applications to agriculture.
In the keynote plenary, Paul Schulze- Lefert (Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Germany) addressed the importance of the plant microbiota on plant growth and defence.
Here, novel insights on understanding the structure, functions and evolution of bacterial root microbiota of arabidopsis were revealed, highlighting the presence of a conserved microbiota in plant roots that is resilient to environmental fluctuations. These new findings have stimulated potential biotech opportunities to explore synthetic bacterial communities for plant growth and health promotion in future crop production systems.
Other talks included Cyril Zipfel (The Sainsbury Laboratory, UK) who presented novel insights on how activated pattern recognition receptors at the plant cell plasma membrane directly engage with downstream signalling in plant innate immunity and, disclosed, for the first time, the biological relevance of the cytoplasmic kinase BIK1 on the regulation of oxidative burst. Brian Staskawicz (University of California, USA) presented genomic and molecular approaches for engineering durable resistance in cassava and tomato. And Detlef Weigel (Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Germany) addressed enthusiastically the fitness trade-offs in immunity and their efforts to describe the species- and genome-wide variation of disease resistance genes.
Visual images of host-pathogen interaction were featured in an original video presented by Ken Shirasu (RIKEN Plant Science Centre, Japan) showing the parasitic plant weed Striga avoiding infection into other plant from the same family and in quantitative live cell imaging tools developed by Silke Robatzek’s group (The Sainsbury Laboratory, UK) such as the stomata quantifier, callose measurer or the infection measurer which can be extremely useful for assessing disease symptoms or plant responses to stresses.
The poster sessions were extremely interactive, and a good opportunity to engage in fruitful discussions and meet other participants. Here I presented my PhD research on ‘Molecular genetics of interactions between Xanthomonas campestris and Arabidopsis thaliana’ and I was very pleased to discuss my research. The conference programme allowed time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and explore the ski areas in Montana, which was a great combination of science, social and good fun skiing.
A great party closed the meeting and a good time was had by all.
Congratulations to the organizers, Sophien Kamoun (The Sainsbury Laboratory, UK) and Ken Shirasu (RIKEN Plant Science Centre, Japan) for organizing such a nice meeting. I very much enjoyed attending this meeting and I would like to thank to BSPP for providing me with the travel fund. Thank you very much!
Vania Horta de Passo University of Warwick