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The 9th International Symposium on the Microbiology of Aerial Plant Surfaces, Oregon, USA 15th – 18th August 2010
The phyllosphere meeting covered many research areas f rom i ts interactions with the atmosphere to its associated microbes; namely how the environment affects the microbial populations and how the latter challenge the host. Many talks focused on survival and dispersal of human enteric diseases on crops. By the end of the meeting connections were draw between presentations and it was remarkable to see how many merged to form a more global picture.
The first session of the meeting focused on the interactions between the atmosphere and the phyllosphere and Dr Pierre Amato described i ts mechanisms and processes. The vegetation is the main source of bacteria and yeasts in the atmosphere.
Many of these are ice-nucleating microorganisms and are considered as “rainmakers” causing their own redeposition in the biosphere. Later Dr Cindy Morris used Pseudomonas syringae as an illustration of this process and showed that many plant-associated strains have a life cycle related to the water cycle.
Aggressiveness was positively related to ice-nucleating ability. She asked then whether or not P. syringae could be considered as an epiphyte and how land management could affect the clouds and vice-versa.
Many new experimental techniques to monitor survival and colonisation of leaf -associated bacter ia were also presented. Dr Mitja Remus-Emsermann developed CUSPER, a bioreporter tool based on the inverse relationship between the amounts of pre-formed stable GFP and the reproductive success of the bacteria in simple and complex environments. As the transformed bacteria successfully colonize and multiple in their environment, the GFP concentration will reduce. Dr Robin Tecon presented his work on the construction of new synthetic substrates in order to recreate single characteristics of the leaf surface such as the 3D structure or the nutrient micro-heterogeneity.
The conference ended up with a summary and perspectives of four of the committee members. Professor Steve Lindow (“Mr Phyllosphere”) listed many research areas to investigate, such as the need to develop a model of biogeographical partition of microbes in island-like colonies on the leaf surface.
Furthermore an interesting comparison between the leaf’s and the gut’s microflora has also been established for further insights, owing to similar diversity and richness.
Dr Walt Mahaffee did an amazing job in organising this symposium. Everything went smoothly and it was a great success. The next Phyllosphere Meeting should be held in four years’ time either in Switzerland or Brazil. But one thing is certain: I will be there to present more than a poster. I also would like to gratefully acknowledge the BSPP for covering half my expenses and making this journey possible.
Clement Gravouil Scottish Crop Research Institute