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The 12th International Rapeseed Congress Wuhan, China, 26-30 March, 2007
The 12th International Rapeseed Congress was held in Wuhan, China.
More than 800 participants from 39 countries attended the conference. It was an action packed conference covering many aspects of oilseed rape research. The conference was split into seven sessions covered topics dedicated to genetics and breeding, biotechnology, agronomy, plant protection, feed, trading and industrial materials. During the conference, participants also had opportunities to attend workshops to discuss specific topics, such as disease control, oil content, rapeseed genomics and biodiesel.
The opening ceremony was enhanced by a Chinese Chime Bell performance which was fantastic. The performers were wearing traditional Chinese costumes and making beautiful music by striking the bells of different sizes.
The original set of bells was buried for more than 2400 years and could still produce beautiful music when they were excavated. This gave the participants a taste of the long history and culture of China.
In the morning of the first two days of the conference, there were presentations by plenary speakers. Peter McVetty (Canada) reviewed oilseed rape genetics and breeding research for sustainable oilseed production; Graham King (UK) gave an overview of Brassica genomics and outlined the challenges for crop trait resolution and improvement; Philippe Dusser (France) discussed the development of the supply and demand for oilseeds and oilseed products; Yongming Zhou (China) reviewed genetic improvement of oilseed rape in China; Heiko Becker (Germany) reported the advances in oilseed rape biotechnology; Christian Barth (Germany) overviewed present knowledge and future options on use of oilseed rape for human nutrition; Silvia Estermann (Australia) discussed use of oilseed rape for biodiesel production related to international legal requirements and environmental benefits.
The poster session was held during the lunch breaks. I was particularly interested in the posters related to stem canker (Leptosphaeria maculans). I was attracted by a poster presenting the current situation in Brassica juncea- Leptosphaeria maculans pathosystems in Australia. B. juncea was thought to be a source of resistance to L. maculans, but when quality B. juncea was grown commercially in Australia, stem canker (also called blackleg) epidemics occurred in B. juncea crops.
The severity of stem canker differed between regions, perhaps due to differences in pathogen populations and local environments. My work on a major resistance gene (Rlm6) derived from B. juncea had shown that major gene mediated resistance to L. maculans can be temperature – sensitive. When temperature was increased over 25Â°C, cultivars with Rlm6 were susceptible whist they were resistant at 15Â° C.
Therefore, I am interested to know whether other major resistance genes derived from B. juncea are temperature -sensitive. Having previously worked in oilseed rape breeding and currently working on epidemiology of stem canker, I was interested in posters related to genetics and breeding and plant protection.
I attended the Plant Protection session and made an oral presentation about my work on understanding the symptomless growth of L. maculans to develop strategies to control phoma stem canker. There were eleven presentations about control of stem canker, five presentations about control of stem rot, three presentations about pest control and ten presentations about control of other diseases. An interesting talk was given by Phil Salisbury (Australia). He reported that when a major gene for resistance to L. maculans was introgressed into a very susceptible genetic background it was rapidly rendered ineffective in commercial crops. He discussed methods to increase the durability of resistance through selecting the genetic background and rotation of cultivars with different resistant genes. With reports on breakdown of major gene resistance to L. maculans, Jonathan West (UK) introduced a strategy for durable control of phoma stem canker on oilseed rape through L. maculans avirulence management. To increase the durability of resistance genes, there is a need to understand the pathogen population structure in different regions and to deploy appropriate resistance genes in the host crop to avoid a high selection pressure on the corresponding avirulence alleles in the pathogen. With increasing severity of epidemics of phoma stem canker in countries like Poland where previously only the less damaging species (L. biglobosa) was present, there is a potential that the damaging species L. maculans will spread into China where currently only the less damaging species L. biglobosa is present. Bruce Fitt (UK) presented a talk on strategies to prevent spread of L. maculans onto oilseed rape in China.
Another interesting presentation was given by Roger Rimmer (Canada) who reported his work on searching for genes for resistance to L. maculans and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum.
As well as attending the scientific presentations, discussions and tasting delicious Chinese food, participants had an opportunity to watch a Chinese acrobatic performance which was excellent. At the conference dinner, the entertainment was fantastic, especially the local opera ‘changing face’. It was amazing that the performer could change his face so quickly and frequently.
I would like to express my thanks to the BSPP Travel Fund for sponsoring my attendance at this conference. This gave me the opportunity to meet scientists from international groups working on L. maculans, to make new international contacts, to present my work, and to strengthen existing collaborations with the CAAS Oil Crops Research Institute and Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan.
Yongju Huang Rothamsted Research