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Scottish Microbiology Society/British Society for Plant Pathology joint meeting on plant-microbe interactions
University of Paisley, September 2002
The Scottish Microbiology Society aims to provide a scientific and social forum for microbiologists based in Scotland and holds two one-day meetings each year. Meetings are informal and aim to encourage presentations by postdoctoral fellows and students. The 14th Symposium considered the general topic of Plant-Microbe Interactions and was held in conjunction with the BSPP. The meeting started with a presentation by the guest speaker, Professor John Mansfield (Imperial College at Wye) who discussed the contribution of both bacterial and plant processes on the development of plant disease in a presentation entitled Bacteria v Plants: evolution of tactics for attack and defence . The presentation considered the mechanisms used by pathogens to overcome plant defences, the involvement of a type III secretion system for translocating bacterial proteins across the plant cell wall, and how plants have evolved to recognise certain virulence genes generating varietal resistance.
This was followed by a presentation by Dr John Jones (SCRI) on the virulence processes used by plant parasitic nematodes. He described the characterisation of a number of proteins secreted by nematodes that allow them to overcome plant defences. A number of the genes required for nematode pathogenicity have been shown to be acquired by horizontal gene transfer from phytopathogenic bacteria.
The morning session finished with a consideration of the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis by Dr Lucy Harrier (SAC). An overview was given of ongoing work looking at the molecular changes that occur during the plant-fungal interaction.
The afternoon session involved a series of short offered presentations. Dr Gary Lyon (SCRI) described the development of a searchable web database, known as DRASTIC, summarising information on genes differentially expressed during infection and other stresses. In addition, the benefits of introducing a Nucleotide Function Code for gene classification were discussed. Student presentations were started by Shuang Li from the University of Aberdeen who described the peptide fingerprinting of Phytophthora infestans secreted proteins aimed at identifying avirulence determinants.
Jacqueline Heilbronn (SCRI) described the identification of potato signalling genes that are up regulated following infection by Erwinia carotovora ssp. atroseptica. Maria Holeva (SCRI) described the characterisation of the hrp/dsp gene cluster of Erwinia carotovora ssp. atroseptica and the subsequent generation of mutants with a view to identifying a role for the gene products in pathogenicity and host specificity. The final presentation by Dr Mike Mattay (University of Strathclyde) described the use of a chitin synthetase inhibitor to control club root disease of brassica crops caused by Plasmodiophora brassicae.
In addition, there were a number of poster presentations on different aspects of plantmicrobe interactions. The prize was won by David Walsh from the SAC for his poster entitled Gene identification in the pre-symbiotic stage of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Gigaspora rosea (Beg 9) by expressed sequence tag analysis .
The meeting was a great opportunity for Scottish Microbiologists and Plant Pathologists, particularly students and postdoctoral researchers, to meet and discuss their work in an informal setting, especially during the cheese and wine reception!
The organisers would like to thank the British Society for Plant Pathology for their support of this meeting.