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Sep 20
MPMI Editorial Board Awards Best Student Papers for 2021

To recognize the work o​f early-career scientists, the MPMI Editorial Board has implemented a new award series to honor the best papers published by student first authors. For 2021, the first place award goes to Kyungyong Seong for his paper "Computational Structural Genomics Unravels Common Folds and Novel Families in the Secretome of Fungal Phytopathogen Magnaporthe oryzae." Jeanne Harris, MPMI editor-in-chief writes, "The approach using structure modeling to identify effector families by their folded shape, rather than amino acid sequence, opens up a world of possibilities, not only in identifying new effectors, but also in understanding the evolution of effector families and functions, and, in the future, as a tool in immune receptor engineering. In addition, the paper was clearly and logically written, with implications and future uses of this approach clearly visualized and explained." Kyungyong will present his work in the What's New in MPMI Virtual Seminar Series in November. You can also learn more about Kyungyong and his work below.

The second place award for the top graduate student-authored MPMI paper goes to Zi-Hui Huang for the paper "A Small Cysteine-Rich Phytotoxic Protein of Phytophthora capsici Functions as Both Plant Defense Elicitor and Virulence Factor."

The third place award goes to Takemasa Kawaguchi for the paper "AKSF1 Isolated from the Rice-Virulent Strain Acidovorax avenae K1 Is a Novel Effector That Suppresses PAMP-Triggered Immunity in Rice."​

Name: Kyungyong Seong

Current Position: A third-year graduate student in the Ksenia Krasileva Lab at the University of California, Berkeley.

Education: B.S. degree in bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley.

Brief Bio: I started my study in plant immunity as an undergraduate student in Dr. Brian Staskawicz's lab at the University of California, Berkeley. My first project involved analyzing intracellular immune receptors (NLRs) across wild tomato species collected from South America. I was soon absorbed in exploring the complexity of plant genomes and decoding the history of plant survival against pathogens. After finishing my B.S. degree, I continued my research for the next three years in Dr. Staskawicz's lab in the Innovative Genomics Institute. I was influenced every day by great scientists with passion and diligence in their work and by the MPMI community striving to improve plant health. Eventually, I decided that I wanted to join the community as a genomics scientist to make contributions to plant pathology.

I started my Ph.D. program at UC Berkeley with my current supervisor, Dr. Ksenia Krasileva. We share the same viewpoint that interdisciplinary novel techniques could help elucidate diverse aspects of the plant–pathogen interaction. In our first lab meeting, I presented three ambitious goals I wanted to pursue in alignment with this vision: 1) elucidating effector evolution based on predicted structures; 2) engineering NLRs for novel recognition specificity against any effector targets; and 3) computationally predicting the interaction between effectors and their host targets. The computational structural genomics on the blast pathogen published in MPMI, together with the recently preprinted comparative study, completes the first chapter of my Ph.D. journey. I am happy to share the work with the community and am already excited for the new challenges I will soon encounter in protein design.

Sep 20
Five New Assistant Feature Editors Support the MPMI Journal

In 2020, MPMI journal Editor-in-Chief Jeanne Harris and Associate EIC Tessa Burch-Smith spearheaded an effort to add assistant feature editors to the MPMI Editorial Board. These creative individuals have two-year appointments to explore new ways to present and amplify journal articles. After reviewing submissions from this year's applicants, Harris invited Dominique Holtappels, Siva Sankari, Amelia Lovelace, Manish Tiwari, and Tiffany (Tiff) Mak to be assistant feature editors for MPMI.

Past Assistant Feature Editors Morgan Carter, Elizabeth Deyett, and Juan S. Ramirez worked on paper summaries for newsletters and press releases, helped with social media promotion, worked on the Microgreens podcasts, and wrote biographies for first authors.​

Meet the Assistant Feature Editors!

Dominique Holtappels

Postdoctoral Researcher
University of California-Berkeley, USA

1) Introduce yourself—your background, where you are now, and your current research focus.

Hi! I'm Dominique. I'm currently working as a postdoc at the Koskella Lab at UC Berkeley. Originally, I'm from Belgium, where I did my Ph.D. studies in bioscience engineering at the Laboratory of Gene Technology (KU Leuven) with Prof. R. Lavigne, focusing on the potential of bacteriophages as a biocontrol strategy to tackle bacterial diseases in several crops. In my current position, I'm looking into the effects of bacteriophage–bacterium coevolution on the bacterium–plant interaction, using pear trees as a model system. I'm also interested in how phages manipulate the microbial community in general and what role they play in the disease ecology of several diseases plaguing these trees. Want to learn more? Visit Twitter @Dominiqueholta1​ and https://holtappelsdominiqu.wixsite.com/dhltppls.​

2) Why did you apply to be an assistant editor?

I applied for the position of assistant features editor as I love making podcasts. They are the perfect medium for reaching a broad, scientifically minded audience and getting people interested in the beauty of microbes and their interactions with plants. There is more than meets the eye! In my role as assistant features editor, I want to translate novel and complex science into bite-sized information that is accessible to everyone—because, let's be honest, who doesn't want to learn about those nasty black hairs coming out of their favorite strawberries?

3) What do you hope to accomplish during your time as assistant editor, and what do you most look forward to in this position?

Helping people understand what we scientists do on a day-to-day basis and showing them that we are building toward a better future for the generations to come is what I want to achieve. We are not just doing science for the sake of knowledge. Our ideas and research lay the foundation for a better, more sustainable, and brighter future in harmony with our environment. Together with MPMI, we can build a community that educates people on the beauty and significance of our research. Let's show them what we are working on in a comprehensive way and maybe, just maybe, inspire them to do the same!

Amelia Lovelace

Postdoctoral Researcher
The Sainsbury Laboratory, UK

1) Introduce yourself—your background, where you are now, and your current research focus.

I'm Amelia Lovelace, a postdoctoral researcher at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Dr. Wenbo Ma's lab. I attended a small liberal arts college called Hood College in Frederick, MD, USA. I was first introduced to the field of plant–microbe interactions while in college, where I conducted my honors thesis project at the USDA-ARS in Fort Detrick, MD. I worked with highly pathogenic fungi called rusts in a BSL3 greenhouse that required me to wear scrubs and shower out of containment. I was in awe that something so tiny could be so devastating, and I wanted to learn more about these plant pathogens. I graduated in December 2020 with my Ph.D. degree in plant pathology at the University of Georgia. I worked in Dr. Brian Kvitko's lab, where I explored the mechanisms of plant immunity through bacterial monitoring. My current research at The Sainsbury Laboratory focuses on the effector biology of phloem-limited bacterial pathogens. Although these pathosystems are challenging, I find them truly fascinating!

2) Why did you apply to be an assistant editor?

Since moving from the United States to the United Kingdom, I've had to think about my field of research through a global lens. I applied to be an assistant editor because I am impressed by the creative ways that MPMI promotes and builds its international community. I want to be a part of these initiatives that aim to celebrate the communities' achievements and diversity.

3) What do you hope to accomplish during your time as assistant editor, and what do you most look forward to in this position?

As an assistant features editor, I want to promote the fantastic work done by first authors and early-career scientists. Additionally, this will be a great opportunity to expand my knowledge on the plant–microbe interactions that fall outside of my own personal research interests. I want to expand my writing and creative skills by creating accessible, nontechnical summaries in both written and visual formats. I look forward to working with the editorial staff and getting behind-the-scenes experience on the inner working of a research journal.

Manish Tiwari

Postdoctoral Researcher
University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA

1) Introduce yourself—your background, where you are now, and your current research focus.

I am Manish Tiwari, a postdoctoral fellow in Prof. Jean-Michel Ane's Lab, Department of Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. I graduated with my Ph.D. degree from the National Institute of Plant Genome Research, India. I worked with Dr. Sabhyata Bhatia, and my study was focused on elucidating the regulatory mechanism of chickpea root nodule symbiosis involving cytokinin and small RNAs. This is where I was introduced to nitrogen fixation. Continuing the same background, I am currently working on deciphering the signaling cascade function between the plasma membrane and cytoplasm regulating root nodule symbiosis. I am ambitious about understanding the nitrogen fixation mechanism and engineering the same into cereals to reduce fertilizer dependency.

2) Why did you apply to be an assistant editor?

Research is fascinating and, simultaneously, a never-ending process in which you learn new things daily. My doctoral and postdoctoral work was mainly confined to beneficial plant–microbe interactions, thereby missing the required knowledge on the other side of plant–microbe interactions. As an assistant editor, there is an opportunity to come across intriguing research that will strengthen the knowledge I gained and accomplish what I missed. Additionally, there is an opportunity to learn about the publication process and promotion of published research in different interactive forms. As an assistant editor, I will have a platform to express my thoughts about published research and simplify them to resonate globally with authors and readers. The tenure as an assistant editor may also help me add the experience required to succeed in publishing while being in academia and editorial responsibilities if I come across them in the future.

3) What do you hope to accomplish during your time as assistant editor, and what do you most look forward to in this position?

I look forward to building a network with the authors and the editorial team responsible for the publication. In the process, I would like to learn all the intricacies behind the scenes before publication. I am also interested in being involved in the journal's promotional events to highlight articles of significant interest and take them to a scientific and nonscientific audience. My motto during my tenure will be to present simplified science and promote it to a very general audience without jargon and technicalities. Ultimately, I aim to arouse the broad audience's interest in science and bridge the gap between them and scientists. This position will help me gain the necessary exposure and experience to shape my career trajectory.

Siva Sankari

Postdoctoral Researcher
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

1) Introduce yourself—your background, where you are now, and your current research focus.

I am a postdoctoral research scientist in Dr. Graham Walker's lab, Department of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My work encompasses understanding the mechanisms of action of plant peptides that govern host–microbe interactions and translating them to pharmacological, diagnostic, therapeutic, and agricultural applications. During my graduate studies in Dr. Mark O'Brian's lab at the University at Buffalo, NY, I worked on understanding important mechanisms of iron import, trafficking, and export in the bacterium Bradyrhizobium japonicum when in symbiosis with soybean. That is when I started admiring how certain plants and microbes share resources and have evolved to coexist harmoniously. However, I was fascinated to learn that there are systems where the host becomes more manipulative and started working on Medicago–Sinorhizobium symbiosis during my postdoc. I was born and brought up in a small town in India and have first-hand experience in learning gaps (especially in science) experienced by first-gen students and those hailing from rural backgrounds. I am passionate about creating awareness of scientific research and developing scientific temperament among students hailing from less privileged backgrounds. When I am not doing science, I love spending time with my kid, singing and listening to Carnatic and light music, and gardening.

2) Why did you apply to be an assistant editor?

I am always intrigued by the various avenues MPMI has invested in, apart from being an excellent journal. Programs like author interviews, Microgreens podcasts, virtual seminar series, first-author bios, and interviews have been enlightening and have given me a real-world connection to the published articles. These initiatives build a sense of community among researchers and develop a "symbiotic relationship" between scientists from various backgrounds. I think these are very important for the next generation of students to develop a sense of belonging and choose plant–microbe research as a career. I also applaud MPMI's strong commitment to diversity. All of these initiatives align well with my passion to make science accessible to everyone, and that is why I want to join this team and contribute my best to these efforts.

3) What do you hope to accomplish during your time as assistant editor, and what do you most look forward to in this position?

I hope to write articles on first authors, on how the research unfolded in the lab, acknowledging the role of undergrads, etc. I also hope to contribute to converting complex research articles into simple summaries without jargon and at the same time preserving the intricacy of the research. I hope to bring out stories from scientists of diverse backgrounds and maintain MPMI's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. I also hope to learn the nuances of scientific communication and improve my writing skills. The most exciting thing that I look forward to as an assistant features editor is to connect with scientists, talk to them about their research, and be a part of this community. I also look forward to connecting with undergraduate and graduate students in this community, learning about their needs and the obstacles they face, and will try to help them in my capacity through the community.

Tiffany Mak

Postdoctoral Researcher
The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Denmark

1) Introduce yourself—your background, where you are now, and your current research focus.

I'm a postdoc at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). My current research areas of focus include 1) how microbes interact with each other to form communities in different ecological niches, from soil to fermented foods; 2) how we as humans interact with these communities; and 3) how these interactions, in turn, shape our food system. I studied Natural Sciences as an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge and subsequently moved to London for my Ph.D. studies at the Francis Crick Institute, where I mainly worked on understanding the coordination of protein synthesis and cell growth control using fission yeast as the model system.

You might be wondering, how did I go from cell biology research into looking at microbial communities and food systems? While I was working on my Ph.D. degree, I initiated some side projects with collaborators across various disciplines to look at how human activity, particularly in the areas of food consumption, impacted our global food system and ultimately the overall sustainability of the wider ecosystem. I became aware that just as all the processes within a cell are related to each other, our food system is also extremely interconnected, and the ways we produce and consume food have direct consequences, not only on our own health, but also that of our planet. Interestingly, a common theme that I found to relate to many different aspects, from agriculture to nutrition, was microbes(!), which is also what brought me here to Copenhagen to continue my research.

2) Why did you apply to be an assistant editor?

Working in highly multidisciplinary areas of research, I see science communication as having an essential role in not only the sharing of knowledge, but also the process of inquiring and generating itself. I was inspired by the range of activities that MPMI has committed to in engaging both specialists and nonscientific audiences, and I am motivated to be part of the team in continuing to expand these activities. I see it as my responsibility as a researcher to communicate and share specialist findings in an approachable manner, with the intention of creating open, inclusive, and equitable access to knowledge.

3) What do you hope to accomplish during your time as assistant editor, and what do you most look forward to in this position?

The ways in which people access information and knowledge these days often take on many different forms. During my time as an assistant features editor (AFE), I am keen to explore how we can share and also engage in discussions about new research findings, especially in the form of podcasts and other multimedia platforms. I would also like to take the opportunity to highlight some of the "behind the scenes" aspects of writing and journal publishing. Last, but certainly not least, I am excited to be working with the other AFEs and the core team at MPMI and continue to build a community that promotes diverse and inclusive research.

Personal website: https://www.tiffsmak.com

Aug 25
Two New Junior Members Join the IS-MPMI Board Of Directors

In order to include the viewpoints of our members-in-training in society decision making and congress planning, the IS-MPMI Board of Directors (BOD) has added two junior members. The BOD received applications from several impressive candidates from around the globe and evaluated each based on excellence in scholarship and training, collaboration within the society, leadership at his or her institution, and outreach within his or her community. We are pleased to welcome Priya Sengupta and Goodluck Benjamin to the board! Read further for more about Priya and Goodluck.​

Priya Sengupta

I am a doctoral researcher at the Institute for Plant sciences/CEPLAS, University of Cologne in Germany. I received my master's degree in botany from University of Calcutta, India, in 2017. Afterward, I moved to Germany to pursue my doctoral degree in the lab of Prof. Gunther Doehlemann at the University of Cologne. At the moment, I am conducting my Ph.D. research on the topic of microbial antagonism on the Arabidopsis thaliana phyllosphere.

Aside from active research, I enjoy doing science communication and outreach, so I can often be found in a crowded marketplace or pub discussing plant–microbe interactions.

I look forward to serving as a junior board member for IS-MPMI and as the voice of early-career researchers.

Goodluck Benjamin

Hi! I am Goodluck, a Ph.D. student in the labs of Pierre Frendo and Marylene Poirie at INRAE/Université Côte d'Azur, France, and I am thrilled to join the IS-MPMI BOD as a junior member. Using multi-omics strategies, I investigate how the symbiotic interaction between nitrogen-fixing bacteria and legumes protect legumes against infestation from herbivores such as the pea aphid. I have a bachelor's degree in microbiology and a master's degree in biocontrol solutions for plant health from Babcock University, Nigeria, and Université Côte d'Azur, France, respectively. I started my career in plant science and plant–microbe interaction at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), where my work centered around developing and applying phytosanitary measures, as well as collection and conservation of healthy virus-free collections of tropical clonal crop Dioscorea (yam). I have been fortunate to study plant–microbe interactions from both pathologic and symbiotic perspectives, as this has greatly increased my knowledge and appreciation of the field.

When I'm not being a scientist, I am a virtual football (soccer) manager of whatever club I'm coaching on Football Manager (FM), as I am an ardent gamer and a lover of the beautiful game of football. I am also passionate about food and cooking, as well as having conversations on subjects centering around philosophy, politics, science in general, society, and religion.

As a young scientist from Nigeria, I have always been interested in the development of science and seeing to the participation of other young scientists with backgrounds similar to myself in the practice of basic and applied sciences, which seems to be a declining and underappreciated field in Nigeria. This led to the cofounding of the Science-Space Initiative (Sci-Space), a nonprofit started with a group of young Nigerian scientists to spear head the promotion of STEM within the Nigerian science and education space. We also look to serve as a resource community for young and budding scientists, as well as pique the interest of younger science students at grassroot science levels.

I joined IS-MPMI in a bid to increase my participation within the STEM community and to connect and interact with other scientists within the field. Over the past two years, I have been involved in the planning and execution of events on the platform of IS-MPMIConnect, and I have attended various talks, both scientific and nonscientific, on IS-MPMI. Coming onboard as a member of the IS-MPMI BOD fully aligns with my interests in science promotion and participation by early-career scientists in science communities. I present the BOD with a diversity of ideas and personality, as I come from a minority group with a diverse view of scientific involvement. I will propose and develop ideas to increase collaboration across various countries with differing socio-economic statuses to enrich our scientific community. Recognizing that much has been done on these subjects by our society in the last couple of years, much more can still be done to bridge the gap in involvement and outreach to other untapped communities. Together with other IS-MPMI members, I would like to work on better and more efficient strategies to better impact our society.

I look forward to the advancement of the brilliant research society that is our IS-MPMI.​

Jun 22
IS-MPMI Hosts Junior Colleague Showcase
On June 8 and 9, IS-MPMI held the first of two virtual Early Career Showcases to highlight the outstanding work being done by our junior members. The June showcase was moderated by Dr. Morgan Carter, a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Dr. David Baltrus at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and Dr. Kevin Cox, a Hanna Gray postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Blake Meyers at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, MO. The showcase featured the work of 15 graduate students and postdocs located around the world and included discussions on a wide variety of topics. The list of speakers and titles can be found on the Early Caree​r Showcase website.​

Following the presentations each day, the event included several breakout rooms for discussions on various topics important to junior members. These included the following topics:

  • "Navigating the Scientific Jungle Gym—Career Options for Scientists," hosted by Dennis Halterman (U.S. Department of Agriculture, USA) and Tessa Burch-Smith (Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, USA)
  • "Securing Your Own Funding—Insights to Fellowships and Grants," hosted by Patricia Baldrich (Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, USA)
  • "Identifying Questions and Leads to Chase—Scientific Intuition," hosted by Roger Innes (Indiana University, USA) and Kevin Cox (Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, USA)
  • "Caring for Yourself—Work–Life Balance and Well-being," hosted by Charles Roussin-Léveillée (University of Sherbrooke, Canada) and Mary Beth Mudgett (Stanford University, USA
  • "Building Skills and Relationships—Effective Networking," hosted by Adam Bogdanove (Cornell University, USA) and Morgan Carter (University of Arizona, USA).

The second Early Career Showcase will be held on September 20 and 21. Registration is free for IS-MPMI members. Register today!

Mar 21
A Letter from IS-MPMI President Mary Beth Mudgett

I hope this newsletter finds everyone healthy and that their semester is off to a great start.

Our IS-MPMI community has proven to be remarkably resilient during these turbulent times. The launch of several new society initiatives has been instrumental in keeping us connected and enabling us to share our exciting research from afar. Kudos to MPMI Editor-in-Chief Jeanne Harris and her team for hosting the monthly What's New in MPMI Virtual Seminar series highlighting research advances published in the MPMI journal. These free events have been instrumental in engaging colleagues working on plant–microbe interactions, both society members and nonmembers, from 61 countries.

We have also received enthusiastic feedback on the eSymposia series and Translational Science Workshops held in 2021. Many thanks to the organizers, speakers, and moderators for their contributions. Moving forward, we aim to offer additional online events, especially during non-congress years. I encourage you to submit your suggestions for new research themes to cover in the near future. Feel free to write to me.

Unfortunately, we had to cancel the 2022 IS-MPMI Congress planned for JeJu, Korea, due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 impacting the safety of our community. We are so grateful to the entire local organizing committee, led by Professors Doil Choi, Keehoon Sohn, and Ho Won Jung and the Korean Society for Plant Pathology, for their extraordinary efforts to plan a congress during a pandemic. We hope to hold a meeting in Korea in the coming years.

Our inability to gather in-person as a society again this year has greatly impacted our junior colleagues and their professional development. To address this, IS-MPMI will be hosting two half-day virtual symposia to highlight the work of early-career researchers. The dates are June 8 and 9 and September 20 and 21, 2022. More details about the 2022 Early Career Showcase can be found here. Please nominate your colleagues! The deadline is March 31. We will follow up with a speaker program very soon. This event is free to society members.

I am hopeful that 2023 will allow us to meet in-person. Be sure to mark your calendars for July 16–20, 2023, to join us for our 2023 IS-MPMI Congress in Providence, RI, USA. Roger Innes will take the helm of our society in July 2022 as president and is leading efforts to organize a stimulating meeting program.

In closing, I would like to send peaceful wishes and support to our colleagues around the world, especially those who are impacted by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Our academic and research missions play important and long-lasting roles in the vitality of our global society.​

Wishing you all the best,

Mary Beth Mudgett

President, IS-MPMI

Mar 21
Present Your Research at the 2022 Early Career Showcase!

The nomination period to present research at the 2022 Early Career Showcase has been extended! This new event provides the opportunity for senior graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to present important MPMI research to colleagues and industry leaders. The showcase will take place online June 8–​9 and September 20–​21 and is free to all IS-MPMI members—mark your calendar!

Don't miss this opportunity to showcase your work. Nominate yourself, a colleague, or a student before March 31. Submit your nomination today!​

Sep 16
Explore the Most Viewed ePosters from Our July eSymposium

Take a look at the most viewed ePosters from our July eSymposium. You can expect to see more great research from the September 15–16 eSymposium. The final symposium in the series will be held December 1–2: Plant-Microbe Interactions in the Environment—Navigating a Complex World. Register today!

Jun 09
IS-MPMI Congress: eSymposia Series Offers Wonder Networking Platform!

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Wonder
is a fabulously interactive tool that gives you the virtual ability to "walk around" and network with other attendees during 2021 IS-MPMI Congress: eSymposia Series events. It's a new way to network! Look for networking times in the schedule and be sure to add them to your agenda.


Jun 09
U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative Request for Pre-Proposals Now Open for FY22 Funding

The USWBSI has launched its FY22 Funding Cycle. Instructions for submitting a letter of intent and/or pre-proposal for earch category are available on the website. Category 1: Commodity-Based and VDHR-Uniform Nursery Coordinated Projects; Category 2: FHB Integrated Management Coordinated Project; Category 3: Research Area Individual Project; and Category 4: Transformational Science Project.

Jun 09
Abstract Submission Will Reopen Next Week

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Abstract submission will reopen early next week for the July and December 2021 IS-MPMI Congress: eSymposia Series dates.

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