PLANT NUTRITION TRUST REPORT
I am honoured to be one of the recipients of The 2017 Plant Nutrition Trust Award, granted by Australian Society of Plant Scientists. Thanks to this generous support, I attended my very first International Plant Nutrition Colloquium (IPNC), combined with Boron and Manganese satellite meetings, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 19 to 24 August 2017.
I am a third year PhD student from School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane. My study area is on the absorption and translocation of foliar-applied nutrient fertilizers. The IPNC was the best conference that I have attended. Not only because the topic of the conference suited my study area, but also because it inspired through high quality of seminars and and poster presentations. This was especially true for the keynote presentations, which were given by world-leading scientists within the field.
The main theme of the 18th IPNC was: “Plant Nutrition for Global Green Growth”. Indeed, the conference involved presentations on macronutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium, and micronutrients such as zinc, manganese, and boron. Furthermore, a range of plant species were considered, from arabidopsis and rapeseed to wheat and rice, with the focus of the research also being diverse, from nutrient transporters to next generation fertilisers. For example, I particularly enjoyed the keynote presentation given by Marta Vasconcelos titled “Impact of climate change on plant nutrition” which illustrated the effects of increasing atmospheric CO2 on crop growth and nutrient status. This presentation encouraged me to think of the study of plant nutrition at a more interdisciplinary level – not only should we study the relationship between plants and nutrients, but also we should consider the effects of other factors on plant nutrition such as the changing climate, the succession of nutrients in soil agriculture system, and the increasing human population as well as decreasing land area. I also enjoyed the presentation by Jianfeng Ma titled “Molecular mechanisms for distribution of mineral elements in plants” which was inspiring in that it clearly explained how nutrients are allocated and transported within plants, giving consideration to symptoms we can see using our naked eye to the underlying physiology and molecular mechanisms. I also benefited a lot from the keynote presentations by Peter Kopittke and Søren Husted which shared new analytical methods and techniques can be used in the field of plant nutrition with clear examples.
On the 22nd August, I gave an oral presentation about my PhD research, entitled “Understanding how foliar-applied Zn fertilizer moves across the leaf surface in sunflower and soybean”. A particular focus of my presentation was describing a novel role for trichomes in the absorption of foliar-applied nutrients. My research drew the attention of Victoria Fernandez who is a well-known scientist in the field of foliar fertilisation and who also a keynote speaker at the IPNC. We had a lengthy discussion with interest, and she insightful suggestions. Most importantly, she expressed her interest to collaborate in the future, with this being an important achievement for me at this conference. There were also others who presented their work within the topic of foliar fertilisation. These presentations provided an overview of the current studies and showed that the mechanisms of foliar nutrients absorption and translocation are still not fully understood. It is also interesting that it was found that foliar fertilisation is often not helpful for plants that are already severely nutrient stressed, thus it is important to develop methods that can recognise plant nutrients deficiency at the early stages. The photo shows Victoria Fernandez (right side) and myself.
I truly appreciated the generosity and support of the Plant Nutrition Trust Travel Awards. I have gained knowledge, expanded my horizons, and met face-to-face with researchers from all over the world in the field of plant nutrition. Moreover, it has firmed my determination to continue as a researcher within the field of plant nutrition!
Contact: Cui Li