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The first ASDS was held in 1999 and then every 2 years since. The symposium aims to bring together plant pathologists and other biologists with an interest in soil environment. The 7th ASDS was attended by just under a 100 delegates. While the majority of the delegates were from Australia, eight other countries namely, South Africa, New Zealand, the USA, the UK, Fiji, Iran, Denmark and Malaysia were represented.
The different presentations at the symposium covered a wide array of soil borne pathogens such as Rhizoctonia solani, Phytophthora cinnamomi, plant parasitic nematodes including root-knot and cyst as well as beneficial microbes.
The first session in the oral presentations was on chemical control of soilborne diseases. Working on potatoes, the paper that most interested me in this session was that of Tamilarasan Thangaval. Tamilarasan is a PhD student at the University of Tasmania, and he presented part of his work showing that enhanced production of suberin in novel potato somaclones provides protective bio-barrier against scab diseases.
In the session on biological suppression of soil borne disease, I was particularly impressed to see work from Dr Helen Hayden using multiple ‘omics’ approaches in understanding soil borne diseases. In this work, soils, either suppressive or conducive to Rhizoctonia, were sampled and differences in gene expression (transcriptomics), protein composition (proteomics) and soil metabolites (metabolomics) were analysed.
Another interesting presentation was that of Prof Michael Jones, where next generation sequencing was used to analyse the transcriptome of Pratylenchus thornei and P. zeae and one cyst nematode Heterodera schachtii. The authors then applied RNAi to silence gene targets. Dr Robert Tegg presented a paper studying the importance of seed borne inoculum for potato pathogens Streptomyces scabiei, Spongospora subterrabeaf. sp. subterranean and Rhizoctonia solani AG3. 1.
I would like to thank the BSPP for the travel grant giving me an opportunity to present a talk on the use of fluorescent reporter proteins to study the interaction between root knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita and soft rot bacteria Pectobacterium brasiliens. A post graduate student from my lab also presented a poster.
After the conference, we had an opportunity to join an Agricultural field excursion to see Rhizoctonia and nematode field trials. This also afforded me the rare opportunity to see much of the Western Australian countryside and their beautiful flora. We travelled north on the Perth Coastal Plain across the Darling Scap and spend the night in the monastic town of New Norcia. The following day we travelled back to Perth through the beautiful historic town of Toodayay. Regrettably, we did not see any kangroos better luck next time!
Lucy Moleleki University of Pretoria, South Africa