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May 08
We Want Your Photos!

As part of the new IS-MPMI Interactions, we would like to include photos of you doing what you do best. (Science. I mean doing science.) Send us a photo that best represents your research, and we will include it in the InterMurals section of Interactions. Yes, I know that intermural literally means “between walls”, but not many of us get out from between the walls of the lab anyway, right? As an example, I’ve included a photo of me talking about my favorite topic (potatoes!) to a member of the public at the UW-Madison Science Festival. Send your photos and a short caption to me at dennis.halterman@ars.usda.gov.

Dennis Halterman
EIC, IS-MPMI Interactions


May 02
Below-Ground Attack by the Root-Knot Nematode Meloidogyne graminicola Predisposes Rice to Blast

Kyndt and colleagues demonstrate that nematode infestation of rice roots can promote above-ground infection by the rice blast pathogen. The mechanism involves auxin and disregulated oxidative stress responses.

April 26
IS-MPMI Member to Receive Ruth Allen Award

Hailing Jin, University of California-Riverside, will be presented the 2017 Ruth Allen Award at the APS Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX, U.S.A. in August this year.

Jin received her BS from Wuhan University in 1991 and PhD from the Shanghai Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1996. She joined the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology at the University of California, Riverside in 2004 and currently holds the Cy Mouradick Endowed Chair. Jin investigates the role of small RNAs (sRNAs) and epigenetics in plant-pathogen interactions, with the goal of controlling plant diseases. Her laboratory discovered cross-kingdom RNAi during host–pathogen interactions. They demonstrated that some pathogen sRNAs move into host plant cells and suppress host immunity genes, whereas plant-generated small RNAs can also travel to pathogen cells to manipulate fungal gene expression. They also found plant endogenous sRNAs that regulate plant regulatory genes in host immunity against pathogen attack. Furthermore, application of double-stranded RNAs and sRNAs on the surface of fruits, vegetables and flowers can significantly inhibit grey mold disease. Such pathogen gene-targeting RNAs represent a new generation of environmentally friendly fungicides.

April 11
Expose the personal side of your MPMI journal papers in InterJections
Have you published a paper in MPMI recently, but weren’t able to tell the whole story? Maybe something didn’t work as expected, or the most interesting discovery was an “accident”? Did you submit cover art that didn’t quite make the cut? Or maybe you’d like to give a shout-out to someone who inspired the project but wasn’t an author on the paper. As part of the new editorial format of IS-MPMI Interactions, we would like to give our members the opportunity to share any stories related to MPMI journal articles that wouldn’t normally be included in a scientific publication. These stories will be available for all members to read, under a new InterJections category in Interactions, and will be a great opportunity to draw attention to aspects of your paper that readers wouldn’t normally see. If you have ideas or submissions, you can submit them on the Interactions website, or you can send questions and ideas to dennis.halterman@ars.usda.gov​.
April 10
2017 International Conference on Arabidopsis Research
The 2017 International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (June 19-23 in St. Louis, MO, U.S.A.) will feature both plenary and concurrent sessions on plant-microbe interactions, including leaders from the IS-MPMI field such as Paul Schulze-Lefert, Sheng Yang He, and Silke Robatzek. The deadlines for early-bird registration and consideration for presentations has been extended to April 15.
To submit a poster or oral presentation abstract (50 will be selected from abstracts):
Other Details:
  • Inexpensive Housing Available Off Site at Washington State University: $68/night inclusive of all taxes; breakfast included = $272 total for lodging/person
  • Party and Open House at the Danforth Center, including "Careers in Industry" session for students and postdocs
April 03
New Report from SoAR Emphasizes Financial Returns, Impacts of Agricultural Research
Now more than ever, as our government applies the concept of ‘return on investment’ to research projects, scientists must show the economic impact of their research. Fortunately for plant pathology and other agricultural sciences, that impact can be huge.
A new report from the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation, titled “Retaking the Field: Strengthening the Science of Farm and Food Production” highlights significant and economically impactful achievements of 11 university research projects as part of a larger effort to build stronger federal support for the food and agricultural sciences.
The report vividly underscores the positive impacts of investing in scientific research for the benefit of the U.S. economy…to the tune of billions of dollars in savings for American agricultural producers. This report was presented to Congressional staffers in Washington, D.C. on March 2 by Dr. John McDowell, who researches molecular plant-microbe interactions at Virginia Tech and MPMI editor-in-chief.
SoAR’s report highlighted the impact of research funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). McDowell represented one of the 11 NIFA-funded research projects described in the report. The project, titled “Integrated management of oomycete diseases of soybean and other crops,” was funded by NIFA’s Global Food Security program. The project focused on the pathogen Phytophthora sojae, which causes a devastating root and stem rot disease that significantly reduces soybean yields in the U.S. Phytophthora sojae is the cousin of Phytophthora infestans, the infamous pathogen responsible for the Irish Potato Famine.
Funding for this project allowed McDowell and colleagues from 17 other research universities to scour the genome of P. sojae in order to identify the pathogen’s weaknesses, as well as develop new diagnostic tools and disease control strategies to combat Phytophthora root and stem rot.  Among the other important impacts of this work are:
  • The identification of new genes that can be used to breed disease-resistant soybeans
  • New molecular tools for identifying oomycete pathogens in the field
  • The development of an extension network that discussed oomycete diseases and control strategies with farmers and crop advisors
  • The establishment of an undergraduate education network that promoted the importance of agricultural bioinformatics for the next generation of U.S. researchers, producers, and policy makers

Preliminary estimates by agricultural economists suggest that this $9.2 million USDA-NIFA project alone can save farmers as much as $5 billion in the coming years.

“Although the science is complex, the math is simple,” said McDowell. “When we make an investment in research and science, the American people and the economy benefit. Now more than ever, it’s important that we understand the role that scientists and researchers play in helping America thrive.”
Other research projects profiled in “Retaking the Field” include:
  • “Racing Against the Clock to Beat the Rice Blast Fungus” by Dr. Barbara Valent of Kansas State University and colleagues. The group examined the blast fungus, which has long afflicted rice crops and now infects wheat fields, to determine new ways that plants can resist the pathogen and overcome its ability to evolve.
  • “Fast-tracking an Improved Wheat Harvest,” in which Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky and colleagues mapped out more than 90,000 genetic markers in wheat plants. They specifically identified markers linked to further increases in productivity and resistance to dangerous pathogens.
  • “Harnessing a Flood of Data to Improve Rice Production” by Dr. Susan McCouch of Cornell University and colleagues. In this project, researchers cross-referenced genetic details with climate and harvest data over the past 40 years for every rice-growing region in the U.S. to help plant breeders develop new weather-specific varieties.

Learn more about all 11 projects in the full report.

Learn more about SoAR at supportagresearch.org.
March 13
It Is All About Interactions
reginedennis.jpgWhen Regine Kahmann became president of IS-MPMI in July 2016 in Portland, she emphasized that the IS-MPMI Society would benefit from continuing to build on its dynamic and active community—not just with respect to supporting great science and making sure that we have stimulating and exciting meetings every two years—but with regard to its members and transmitting our knowledge to other scientists and the public. Such activities in the past were in part channeled through the IS-MPMI Reporter. In 2014, the print version of the IS-MPMI Reporter was discontinued and IS-MPMI news has since reached you through the Interactions online site.
After a productive term leading IS-MPMI Interactions, Brad Day stepped down from his responsibilities as Editor-in-Chief last year. Following the IS-MPMI Congress in Portland, Dennis Halterman (USDA/ARS, Madison, WI) contacted the IS-MPMI Board of Directors and offered to volunteer his time as the new Interactions EIC. Dennis officially assumed the duties in February of this year. To support Dennis in this undertaking and to provide valuable insights into the IS-MPMI community, he is joined by a team of senior scientists whom Regine recruited because they are close to retirement or have recently retired, have smaller research groups and hopefully fewer responsibilities and have not just more time but also tremendous amounts of accumulated knowledge which they are willing to give back to our community. This team currently includes: Drs. Paola Bonfante (Università di Torino, Italy), Alan Collmer (Cornell University, USA), Allan Downie (John Innes Center, UK), Dan Klessig (Cornell University, USA) and Fred Ausubel (Harvard Medical School, USA). This group of scientists should not be static, so if you have some great ideas for our society and would like to participate, please let us know.
Our goal over the coming year is to not only continue to make the Interactions site an interesting and effective resource for our members, but to add new content that will provide a mix of social and professional interaction among members. We realize that the long-term success of Interactions will rely heavily on member participation. It’s apparent that IS-MPMI members are among the most brilliant, captivating, and talented people that science has to offer (yes, we’re trying to flatter you a bit).  For these reasons, we have little doubt that there are interesting and provocative ideas, comments, and observations within our community just waiting to be shared. Our hope is to make Interactions an accommodating forum for members to share views on “hot topics”, anecdotal stories about research findings published in the MPMI journal, or science-related events within the community. In addition, we anticipate that it will be a valuable resource in particular for our young members who are searching for jobs, finding knowledgeable collaborators, and learning new techniques. In the coming months you may get email requests for your participation in special Interactions topics. We ask that you seriously consider participating in these opportunities and spend some time thinking about how we can make the IS-MPMI community a showcase for effective communication, collaboration, and cooperation.
We hope you will like some of our ideas and engage in the dialogue initiated in Interactions. Please continue to check the Interactions website for new content and opportunities to interact with other members.
Regine Kahmann                Dennis Halterman
President, IS-MPMI            Editor-in-Chief, Interactions
March 13
Perturbation of H3K27me3-Associated Epigenetic Processes Increases Agrobacterium-Mediated Transformation

Improving the efficiency of Agrobacterium-mediated transformation remains a major challenge for many plant species, particularly if the full potential of genome editing is to be realized. Iwakawa et al. provide evidence that transformation efficiency could be enhanced through manipulation of H3K27me3-dependent epigenetic regulation. View article...

March 02
Plant-Microbe Interactions Queenstown Molecular Biology satellite meeting
IS-MPMI members Barry Scott and Peter Solomon recently notified IS-MPMI that registration for the QMB Satellite Meeting on Plant-Microbe Interactions will soon be open. This meeting will be held in Queenstown, New Zealand on 3rd–4th September, 2017.

The main objective of this meeting is to bring together scientists with an interest in the genetics and molecular basis of plant-microbe interactions from New Zealand and Australia. The annual Mt Stromlo Molecular Plant Pathology meeting will not be held in 2017 to encourage Australian researchers to make the journey across the Tasman to participate in the Queenstown meeting.

The MPMI meeting will have the following sessions and confirmed speakers:

Plant-Fungal Interactions:
Sarah Gurr (University of Exeter, UK)
Gunther Doehlemann (University of Köln, Germany)

Plant-Bacterial Interactions
Corne Pieterse (University of Utrecht, The Netherlands)
James Alfano (University of Nebraska, USA)
Nijat Imin (University of Auckland, NZ)
John Sullivan (University of Otago, NZ)

Plant-Oomycete Interactions
Paul Birch (James Hutton, Dundee, Scotland)
Rosie Bradshaw (Massey University, NZ)

Genomes and Genomics
Diane Saunders (Earlham Institute, Norwich, UK)
Jana Sperschneider (CSIRO, Australia)
David Winter (Massey University, NZ)

Plant Immunity
John Rathjen (ANU, Australia)
Simon Williams (ANU, Australia)

Plant-Microbe Interactions
Uta Paszkowski (University of Cambridge, UK)
Alga Zuccaro (University of Koln, Germany)

Population Genetics
Megan McDonald (ANU, Australia)
Honour McCann (Massey University, NZ)

Cell Biology
Gero Steinberg (University of Exeter, UK)

The meeting will bring together around 120 researchers in the magnificent venue of Queenstown to present and engage in exciting top-level science on this topic. We have a good mixture of international and local speakers at various stages of their careers. Besides those listed above some slots will be reserved to select additional speakers from the pro-offered abstracts. In addition a selection of 5 min snapshot talks from students will be invited from the poster session to be held on the evening of 3rd September.

For more information on this meeting and the main QMB meeting to be held from the 4th-6th September visit the Queenstown Research week web site at http://queenstownresearchweek.org or contact Barry Scott (d.b.scott@massey.ac.nz) at Massey University (Palmerston North) or Peter Solomon (peter.solomon@anu.edu.au) at ANU (Canberra).

February 24
Registration Extended for 3rd Adam Kondorosi Symposium on Beneficial Plant-Microbe Interactions
The registration to the 3rd Adam Kondorosi symposium Beneficial Plant-Microbe Interactions that will be held in Gif-sur-Yvette (Paris region, France), on April 24-25, 2017 is extended until March 15.

You can find details for registration at http://aksymposium.ips2.fr/

This meeting aims at creating a scientific event that is at the forefront of fundamental research in beneficial plant-microbe interactionsp. The Symposium will bring together about 150 participants in a rather informal atmosphere, facilitating exchanges. We also aim at proposing a highly attractive program at a moderate inscription fee to give the opportunity to researchers - in particular those at the early stage of their career - to participate to an exciting top-level scientific event. Young researchers will have the opportunity to present their work with a poster.

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