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The 4th International Rusts of Forest Trees Conference (IUFRO Working Party 7. 02. 05); Florence, Italy; 3-6 May 2010
Summary More than 40 Tree Rust specialists convened in beautiful Florence for the Fourth International Rusts of Forest Trees Conference on May 3-6 2010.
Participants from 11 countries from the Northern as well as the Southern hemisphere attended the 4th meeting of our working group and gave 35 presentations on a broad array of topics, including Phylogeny, Distribution, Biology, Epidemiology, Genomics, Genetic Resistance, and Management. A field trip allowed participants to visit Tuscany and to see pine rusts.
Context Rust fungi (Basidiomycota, Uredinales) are the largest group of fungal plant pathogens, containing more than 7000 species that infect trees and other plants in virtually all important families worldwide. Combined, these rusts cause billions of dollars of lost revenues annually to the agricultural and forestry sectors worldwide. In addition to monetary losses caused to the forest industry, rusts are responsible for ecological destabilization, for example by threatening keystone species such as high elevation pines. Forty-two specialists from 11 countries from the Northern as well as the Southern hemisphere attended the 4th meeting of our working group presenting 35 oral presentations and 8 posters covering a broad array of topics.
Scientific highlights After the welcome drink at a masterpiece of the Renaissance, the “Spedaledegli Innocenti” building, the meeting got underway with welcome addresses from dignitaries, including Prof. Giuseppe Surico, Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Prof. Gian Pietro Cellerino, Italian Academy of Forest Sciences. The keynote address was presented by Dr. Richard C.
Hamelin who gave an overview of the progress in tree rust research in the past 4 years and highlighted some of the great advances, including the genome sequencing of the first tree pathogen, the poplar rust Melampsora larici-populina. In the following section on Phylogeny, DNA-based approaches were presented to better understand the species concepts in the complex world of Melampsora rusts. A phylogeographic framework was also presented to depict potential sources of introduction of White Pine Blister Rust in North America.
In the session on Distribution, scientists from India, Italy, South Africa, Indonesia and Brazil presented results on rust diversity, new reports, incidence, and damages. In the following session on Biology and Epidemiology, a broad range of topics was treated, including historical accounts of epidemics, rust monitoring, host studies, molecular epidemiology and axenic cultures. On the last day of the meeting there was an exciting session on Population Genetics and Genomics that included a presentation on the progress of Melampsoralaricipopulina genome analysis, an update on a sequencing project of Fusiforme rust, a study on population genetics of C. flaccidum and P. pini, and work to characterize the secretome and to develop tools for functional analysis of poplar rust in its interaction with the host. This was followed by a session on Genetic Resistance, with presentations on the very efficient and standardized fusiform resistance screening center in the Southern US, genotype selection in Eucalyptus, and impact of terpenes on rusts susceptibility. Intriguing and exciting results on adaptation of rust to quantitative resistance and on the impact of mycorrhiza on infection by poplar rusts were also presented. The meeting closed with a session on Management and Control with both resistance and biological control being covered.
Field Trip On the second day of the meeting, the participants went on a field trip in a green and hilly area in the direction of Siena. In spite of the heavy rain that fell during our outings, the field trip was a success, with stops to see Cronartium flaccidum (with aecial pustules sporulating on the bark of the pine host Pinus pinaster!), Coleosporium senecionis (with aecia on needles of the same pine) and Melampsora pinitorqua (not yet sporulating, but displaying typical “twist shoots” symptoms). We finished the day in Monteriggioni, a medieval fortified city where participants enjoyed Gelati and Caffe.
Overall, this meeting was a success in terms of representation of the participants and the breadth of the topics. There were clearly significant advances in Tree Rust research since our last meeting in Lake Tahoe and there were great opportunities for scientists from different countries to discuss and exchange.
Richard C. Hamelin, Coordinator Salvatore Moricca, Deputy and conference Organizer Pascal Frey, Deputy