Report from Recipients of 2013 Plant Nutrition Trust Travel Scholarship Award
Julie Hayes — 17th International Plant Nutrition Colloquium (IPNC) and Boron Meeting 2013
The 17th International Plant Nutrition Colloquium (IPNC’13) was held in August of this year in Istanbul, Turkey. With support from the Plant Nutrition Trust, I was able to attend this meeting, as well as a small satellite meeting on boron held immediately prior to IPNC’13.
I work at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics, and study aspects of plant nutrition and nutritional stresses. For the last twelve years, I have focussed my research efforts on tolerance to high soil boron in wheat and barley. Thus, I relished the opportunity to participate in a small, specialist meeting discussing boron toxicity and deficiency in agriculture internationally. In attendance were around 80 delegates from across the world, including countries that encounter problems associated with soil boron deficiency (China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan) and boron toxicity (Turkey, USA). Australia was also well represented, with researchers from both the University of Adelaide and the University of Western Australia – large areas across the southern cereal growing regions of our country have toxic levels of boron in the subsoil. In addition to presenting my own research, I heard talks on a wide variety of research topics, from soil science to molecular studies of boron transport in Arabidopsis. Highlights included a report of a new, slow-release boron fertiliser that should reduce the risk of boron toxicity arising as a consequence of fertiliser application. A number of papers were also presented from research groups in Japan, who were the first to identify and describe boron transporters in plants.
The theme for IPNC’13 was nutrient and food security, and a number of excellent talks were given around nutritional aspects of food security. Walter Horst (Germany) identified critical gaps in our knowledge of plant nutrition, including the physiology behind nitrogen use efficiency and the role of plant growth promoting microorganisms. Phillip White (United Kingdom) and Michael Grusack (USA) outlined the challenges of manipulating whole-plant nutrient transport to increase the accumulation of mineral elements in edible plant parts. An economist with HarvestPlus, Howarth Bouis (USA), discussed the ever-increasing severity of micronutrient malnutrition (“hidden hunger”) for humans in the developing world, and demonstrated the potential for biofortification to have a positive impact. After listening to and viewing the many other oral presentations and posters on topics relating to plant nutrition, I realised the importance of a united effort to identify critical areas of plant nutrition research and to make real progress towards meeting quantity and quality targets for world food production into the future.
Julie Hayes (ACPFG, Adelaide)