Plant Nutrition Trust Award reports 2019

Here are reports from Kara Levin and Celine Mens, 2019 Plant Nutrition Trust Awardees.

Report on the Plant Biology 2019 conference: Plant Nutrition Trust, Kara Levin, University of Adelaide.

Plant Biology 2019, an event hosted by ASPB (American Society of Plant Biologists), took place in San Jose, California. I had the privilege to attend this conference along with over 1400 attendees. The conference covered a large number of areas within plant biology over the five days and was set-up to include major symposia sessions in the morning, networking events over lunch, and smaller specialised concurrent sessions in the afternoon. The major symposia talks covered some of the most interesting topics, many of them focused on seeing the larger picture within their niche field of research. An important concept presented at the conference was that the plant receptors used for triggering a symbiotic relationship with a pathogen were the same as those used to trigger a plant immune response – which raises the question on how such contrasting outputs are regulated by the same receptors. The data presented indicates that these receptors are influenced by the nutrient status of the plant. A plant experiencing nutrient deficiency is more likely to trigger a symbiotic response while one that is nutrient-sufficient will activate an immune response. This is an interesting concept for rhizosphere interactions, where a plant that is perhaps nitrogen deficient will induce symbiosis with microorganisms in the soil in order to reach sufficient nitrogen levels. This idea of dynamic plant responses should be considered in plant nutrition research.

Another fascinating talk was during the ‘Plant Synthetic Biology’ section. A group at the Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology have created a more efficient Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle by using synthetic enzymes. Although applying this CO2-fixing system into agriculture is still in the research phase, it provided insights into the kind of ground-breaking research that is being made possible with new emerging technologies.

I presented a novel discovery from my PhD research on interactions between cereal cyst nematode and wheat during the symposia of ‘Plant-Biotic Interactions’. This was an exciting opportunity to discuss my results with a range of international researchers working on similar plant interactions. These discussions helped confirm my research findings as other researchers provided further evidence from their independent studies which reaffirmed of these novel plant-nematode interactions observed in my research. I sincerely thank ASPS for awarding me the Plant Nutrition Trust Travel Scholarship to assist in my conference travels. Attending Plant Biology 2019 was a great experience and perfectly timed as I finish writing a manuscript on my presented research as well as the rest of my PhD thesis.