Lachlan Palmer — 17th International Plant Colloquium (IPNC) in Istanbul, Turkey
The Plant Nutrition Trust travel award gave me the opportunity to attend the 17th International Plant Colloquium (IPNC) in Istanbul, Turkey from 19th to 22nd of August. The main theme for this colloquium was “Plant nutrition for nutrient and food security”. There were many excellent talks and informative posters that covered a broad spectrum of plant science and in particular, plant nutrition.
The keynote presentations were varied and full of amazing results. I particularly enjoyed the talk by Howarth Bouis, “Biofortification: A new tool to reduce micronutrient malnutrition” detailing the successes of the Harvest Plus breeding programs to improve the Zn, Fe or pro-Vitamin A status of staple food crops, and their plans for release into the developing world over the next few years. Results of feed trials using some of these varieties were also presented along with the adoption of these crops within target communities. This talk demonstrated that the increase of nutrients in the grain really can help communities at risk of nutrient deficiency and so improve health and quality of life.
The talk by Prof Jan Schjoerring titled, ”Molecular speciation of micronutrients in plants: consequences for transport and storage” demonstrated some of the methods at the cutting edge for identifying and examining nutrient storage compounds by using an array of interconnected, separation and detection systems. The talk detailed work being done on isolating and identifying the compounds involved in binding and storing Zn in the endosperm of rice. This talk gave a fascinating insight into the type of work that can be done when making full use of analytical tools.
The closing plenary presentation by Jian-Feng Ma titled, “Mineral transport from soil to seed” was of great interest as my PhD research is in this area. The work his group is doing on the nodal interface was extremely interesting. The role of this area of research in improving knowledge surrounding the flow of minerals through the plant transport stream cannot be underestimated. I believe that the information presented in this talk and the further reading I have done since will have a great impact on the writing of my thesis and the deciphering of the data I have collected.
Apart from the plenary and key-note presentations there was a great variety of short talks with some very interesting work being presented that is outside of my area of interest, but indeed, still stimulating. In particular, I was fascinated by the work being done in Japan using radioactive isotopes to image plant wide uptake (Tomoko M. Nakanishi “Development of real-time radioisotope imaging system to study plant nutrition”) with some amazing real time videos of the uptake and distribution of several elements being presented. I also found the work being done in the far north of the UK, examining the role of root phytases in managing manganese deficiency on calcareous soils of interest (Timothy S. George “Genotypic variation in the ability of plants to tolerate manganese deficiency in cereals grown in calcareous systems: the role of root phytases”). Phytate is normally considered an anti-nutrient but in this instance it may play a role in ameliorating manganese deficiency in some cases.
I was also given the opportunity to present work from my PhD research as a short talk “Micronutrient variability in phloem: changes in zinc concentration during grain loading”. This talk demonstrated our success at developing a method for measuring K, Mg, Zn and Fe in nano-litre phloem volumes and maturity related differences in elemental phloem concentration over the course of grain loading. I also presented tissue analysis from plants harvested immediately after phloem collection showing interesting relationships between grain and phloem elemental content. This talk was well received and I had some excellent discussions with academics that will help me in further refining the work for my thesis. We have also had enquiries into possible collaboration to make use of the techniques we have developed from my PhD.
I am truly honoured for the opportunity provided to me by the Plant Nutrition Trust. To have the chance to travel to a major international conference and present my work was a wonderful opportunity for me; one which has expanded and added to my experience as a PhD student and increased my knowledge and understanding in the area of plant nutrition. I look forward to making use of this knowledge in future research opportunities.