2020-Q9 IS-MPMI Interactions Issue 3 (copy)
The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought unprecedented disruptions in our lives. IS-MPMIConnect is a new, virtual platform that will help us promote interactions between members, strengthen our collaboration, improve dialogue, and develop a stronger network.
Also in this issue...
First author Laura Bacete, a former graduate student in the lab of Antonio Molina and current postdoc at the Institute for Biology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, details the journey to discovering how plant cell-wall composition plays a role in disease resistance.
Corresponding authors Dawei Xin and Qingshan Chen, Northeast Agricultural University in Harbin, China, describe their study, which was designed to identify the mechanism regulating the establishment of symbiosis in soybean, enabling it to fix nitrogen from the air.
Li-Na Yang and co-authors explore the role of intrinsic disorder in the development of pathogenicity in the RXLR AVR2 effector of Phytophthora infestans. Their results support the notion that intrinsic disorder is important for the effector function of pathogens.
With the gold open access launch in January 2021, the MPMI journal will become more accessible than ever and can serve as a community meeting place for all. Jeanne Harris, MPMI editor-in-chief, envisions the journal as a place to tackle the big questions in molecular plant–microbe interactions.
The What’s New in MPMI! virtual seminar series provides new ways for the IS-MPMI community to connect and for MPMI to engage with readers and authors. The interaction is outside the regular publication cycle and is much more personal, giving readers and listeners the chance to directly interact with the authors.
With many conferences and regular seminar series cancelled, and many courses being held remotely, the MPMI virtual seminar series, What’s New in MPMI!, is being used by teachers looking for scientific seminars for their students or additional content for a course.
We are always looking for content for Interactions. Please contact Interactions Editor-in-Chief Dennis Halterman with questions or article ideas.
Submitted by Allyson MacLean, Assistant
Professor, Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Canada
It was shortly after 2 p.m., and I
kept checking the time, concerned about losing track of the day. My job that
afternoon was to host my department’s first ever virtual seminar in less than
an hour, and I was nervous about how things were going to proceed. Would the Internet
connection from my guest’s home be strong enough? Would the technology perform
flawlessly? And what exactly was the best way to moderate questions from an
unseen audience? At this early stage of the pandemic, the virtual seminar
series that would soon flourish had yet to be conceived, and rules governing
virtual etiquette were still being established. I kept feeling an urge to log
online and make sure everything was in order. And yet, instead I was reading Peppa
Pig to my 2-year-old, snuggling with her in my bed as she was settling down
for a nap.
I will always remember 2020 as the year in
which my roles as a mother to two young children and an assistant professor at
the University of Ottawa abruptly merged into one chaotic mess. To reconcile
the needs of caring for a 2- and a 4-year-old suddenly at home, with the
demands of a full-time teaching and research position, meant very early
mornings, careful coordination with my husband’s work schedule, and incredibly
long days. A colleague of mine, Marina Cvetkovska, expressed it best, “My
days feel like an endless boring Saturday with a hint of panic.”
My story was far from unique: most parents
were facing these same struggles. With a new era of Zoom meetings featuring
young children climbing onto the laps of colleagues and collaborators rapidly
emerging. I found myself asking the question “How can we all pull together to
help one another?” Over the course of a few late-night Zoom meetings between
myself, Mary Beth Mudgett (IS-MPMI president), Jeanne Harris (editor-in-chief,
MPMI), and Dennis Halterman (editor-in-chief, IS-MPMI
Interactions), the idea of creating an online forum to promote community
and connection during a period defined by self-isolation and social distancing
began to take shape.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought
unprecedented disruptions to both our personal and professional lives, changing
the ways in which we work, network, and even communicate with one another,
possibly forever. COVID-19 has also laid bare some of the societal inequities
in countries across the globe, and within the structures of our own scientific
community, disproportionately affecting early career researchers, for example,
as well as women and parents, all of whom are inherently more vulnerable to
disruptions in their career and home lives. Yet, the pandemic has also seen
scientists and researchers from all disciplines pull together to collaborate on
a scale never seen before—with online conferences about vaccine development
including virologists, immunologists, oncologists, veterinarians, and at least
one plant biologist. I continue to find hope in this.
Now is a time to connect with one another,
to strengthen our collaboration, to improve dialogue, and to develop a stronger
network that will see us emerge from this catastrophe as a community more
united than ever. IS-MPMIConnect is a new, virtual platform that will help us
do just that: promote interactions between members, offering support and
community to help us overcome the challenges this pandemic has imposed upon us
as researchers, teachers, and caregivers—all human beings with multifaceted,
complex lives that have been unexpectedly altered this past year.
IS-MPMIConnect was originally conceived as a means of fostering a network that
would connect those in need of research and teaching support with those able to
provide such help, yet this initiative quickly developed into so much more.
We offer IS-MPMIConnect as a venue for our
members to facilitate networking, collaboration, discussion, mentorship, and
inclusion, with a goal of strengthening our community in bad times and good. We
are presently developing a website to host this forum, and we welcome members
of our society who wish to participate in this to contact us at email@example.com. We are also soliciting
feedback in the form of a survey
designed to gauge interest in a range of topics and activities we think will be
meaningful to our members—please, take a moment to offer
In closing, 2020 has ushered in a new “normal”
for everyone, and at all stages of our careers; IS-MPMIConnect will help us to
shape the direction this new path takes within our society.
The May 2020 Editor’s pick for MPMI
Response Regulator 6 (ARR6) Modulates Plant Cell-Wall Composition and Disease
The first author is Laura Bacete, a graduate student in the lab of Antonio Molina at the Universidad
Politécnica de Madrid. To read
more about Laura, you can find her bio here.
Laura is now a postdoc at the Institute for Biology at the Norwegian University
of Science and Technology. Antonio recently presented this work in a What’s
New in MPMI? Seminar. You can find a recording of his seminar here.
Plant Cell Wall Composition and Disease Resistance:
A Journey across Novel Mechanisms of Plant Immunity
Submitted by Laura Bacete and Antonio
Traditionally, the plant cell wall has been
considered simply a physical defensive barrier against pathogens. However, this
outdated view has evolved to a novel concept that considers the plant cell wall
as a dynamic structure regulating different processes of plant immunity and development
(Figure 1) (Bacete et al. 2018). Recently, we have published
in Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions (MPMI) our last findings about
the impact of the alteration of the cytokinin-responsive Arabidopsis Response
Regulator 6 (ARR6) gene expression
on the modulation of plant cell wall composition and disease resistance responses
(Bacete et al. 2020). Here, we describe the
story of how we reached this fascinating discovery, and how our research group,
initially focused on A. thaliana resistance
to necrotrophic fungi, started a journey that led us to identify a novel mechanism
of plant immunity and to determine the relevance of plant cell wall composition
in disease resistance. This journey led us to the conviction that plant cell wall-mediated
immunity is a key and dynamic component of plant disease resistance against necrotrophic
fungi—our initial pathogens of interest—but also against all the plant pathogens
we have studied.
The complexity of the plant immune system
The complexity of the plant immunity
system, comprising different mechanisms of resistance, was well known at the beginning
of this century. These mechanisms include diverse molecular monitoring systems that
perceive stresses-derived signals, as well as microbe-associated molecular patterns
(MAMPs) and effectors (avirulent proteins) from pathogens, which trigger specific
resistance responses upon perception by specific plant receptors (Jones and Dangl 2006). The evolution of such
monitoring systems has enabled plants to fine-tune their defensive responses
and to adapt their physiological response to environmental condition changes. Also,
it is well known that plant defensive responses are mediated by phytohormones, like
salicylic acid (SA), ethylene (ET), and jasmonic acid (JA), which were initially
described as mainly required for plant resistance to biotrophic (SA) and nectrotrophic
(ET and JA) pathogens, respectively (Robert-Seilaniantz
et al. 2011). In recent years, other phytohormones have been added to
this list of “defensive hormones.” These include abscisic acid (ABA),
brassinosteroids, gibberellins, auxins, and more recently cytokinin, as shown in
recent articles and in our MPMI paper (Bacete
et al. 2020; Argueso et al. 2012; Gupta et al. 2020).
Two decades ago, the plant cell wall was considered
in the plant immunity field to be simply a structure displaying a physical defensive
role—a sort of passive barrier with no essential function in a complex plant
immune system. Nevertheless, it had been demonstrated by several groups that the
plant cell wall is a dynamic and highly regulated structure with several
important functions for plant growth and development. All plant cells have a primary
plant cell wall that is mainly composed of cellulose—which is the principal load-bearing
component—pectins, hemicelluloses, and structural
glycoproteins. In addition, cells that have completed their cellular expansion and
need to strengthen their structure for functional reasons (e.g., to form vessel
or fiber cells) generate a secondary cell wall that also includes lignin.
The plant cell wall is a prominent structure to manage mechanical stresses
caused by either internal (e.g., due to osmotic pressure) or external (e.g.,
caused by pathogen attack) physiological/environmental changes. Therefore, an
important question arose several years ago: how do plants perceive these
changes in their cell walls? In recent years, the status of the plant cell wall
has been shown to be constantly monitored through a series of cell wall integrity
(CWI) surveillance mechanisms (Bacete and Hamann
2020), and the wall has been found to be a source of damage-associated molecular
patterns (DAMPs), mainly of carbohydrate-based compositions, that trigger immune
responses (Bacete et al. 2018, 2020).
thaliana disease resistance to necrotrophic fungi: The initials
Early in the foundation
of our lab at the Technical University of Madrid (UPM, Spain), we performed several
screenings of A. thaliana mutant collections and quantitative trait loci
(QTL) analyses of ecotypes to identify novel genetic components of plant resistance
to necrotrophic fungi. The reason for this initial objective was that the genetic
determinants of plant resistance to this type of fungi were understudied,
despite the fact that necrotrophic fungi cause important yield loses in
agriculture. We selected for these initial screenings several strains from different
necrotrophic fungi species, but we particularly focused on one strain that had been
serendipitously isolated by Brigitte Mauch-Mani (Neuchatel University,
Switzerland) from Arabidopsis plants growing under her lab conditions (Ton and Mauch-Mani 2004). This necrotrophic fungal strain
was an ascomycete from Plectosphaerella cucumerina, which was very easy to
handle in the lab and, more importantly, gave very reproducible necrotrophic symptoms
in different A. thaliana genotypes. We named this isolate PcBMM to
recognize the contribution of Brigitte Mauch-Mani to its discovery. PcBMM
transformed our scientific goals, changed our view of the genetic determinants of
plants resistance to necrotrophic fungi, and revealed an unexpected and relevant
contribution of the plant cell wall to immunity. This exciting journey with Plectospherella
has recently reached an important milestone with the publication in MPMI
of the first sequence and annotation of the genomes and transcriptomes of three
Plectospherella strains (including PcBMM) with different lifestyles
on A. thaliana genotypes (Muñoz-Barrios
et al. 2020).
In our early screenings
with PcBMM we identified several A. thaliana cell wall mutants, like
ern1/irx1/lew2 (impaired in AtCESA8 required for secondary cell wall
cellulose synthesis), displaying broad-spectrum resistance to PcBMM and other
necrotrophic and biotrophic pathogens and enhanced resistance to abiotic
stresses. This initial finding was shocking, but exciting, since it was not in accordance
with the classical view of plant disease resistance to necrotrophic pathogens. Intriguingly,
the molecular bases of irx1 resistance did not seem to be dependent on canonical
defensive pathways (e.g., the expected ET and JA for necrotrophic fungi), but instead
it relied on novel mechanisms of immunity involving ABA signaling and antimicrobial
compounds like tryptophan-derived metabolites and peptides (Hernandez-Blanco et al. 2007). Moreover, in additional
screening aimed at deciphering PcBMM genetic resistance, we frequently found
A. thaliana mutants with enhanced susceptibility to PcBMM and additional
pathogens, which showed alterations in their plant cell wall composition. Among
these mutants were erecta (er), impaired in a receptor-like protein
kinase, and agb1, defective in the beta-subunit of Arabidopsis heterotrimeric
G protein, that display different biochemical alterations in their cell wall composition
compared with that of wild-type plants (Delgado-Cerezo
et al. 2012; Llorente et al., 2005; Sánchez-Rodríguez et al. 2009; Torres et al. 2013). These and additional exciting results suggested that ER and heterotrimeric
G proteins play roles in regulating novel mechanisms of disease resistance mediated
by the cell wall in addition to their function in plant development (Sánchez-Rodríguez
et al. 2009). The function of ER-mediated
pathway in immunity was further corroborated by the characterization of the role
in plant immunity of YODA, a mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase (MAPK3)
functioning downstream of ER in plant development (Bergmann 2004). YODA has been found to regulate broad-spectrum disease resistance through
noncanonical defensive mechanisms involving cell wall-mediated resistance and the
up-regulation of the expression of specific protein receptors and peptidic DAMPs
(Sopeña-Torres et al. 2018; Téllez et al. 2020).
contribution of the plant cell wall to A. thaliana immunity: The ARR6
The findings described
above led us to the conviction that plant cell wall composition and integrity were
essential components of A. thaliana
immunity. To explore this regulatory
effect of the plant cell wall on A. thaliana
immunity and resistance to different
type of pathogens, we decided to follow a biased mutant screening approach and to
perform a detailed analysis of the resistance to different pathogens of a collection
of selected Arabidopsis
mutants impaired in either the primary or secondary
cell wall (Molina et al. 2020). In this biased
screening (Figure 2
an astonishingly high number of cell wall mutants showed altered susceptibility/resistance
to one or more of the pathogens tested compared with wild-type plants, further supporting
the key contribution of the plant cell wall to disease resistance (for further details are provided in Molina et al. 2020).
One of the cell wall
mutants with disease resistance alterations was impaired in the ARR6 gene (arr6), and it is
characterized in our MPMI paper (Bacete et al. 2020). Our first observations
on two mutant alleles (arr6-3 and arr6-2) of ARR6 indicated
that they both had alterations in their cell wall composition and in their resistance
to different pathogens with different colonization styles. ARR proteins have been
described as components of the cytokinin signaling pathway, which has previously
been involved in the modulation of some disease-resistance responses (Argueso et al. 2012; Gupta et al. 2020). In
our work recently published in MPMI (Bacete
et al. 2020), we describe a previously unknown function of ARR6 by
showing that ARR6 is actually a regulator of cell wall composition and of disease
resistance responses against different pathogens causing important diseases,
like the necrotrophic fungus PcBMM and the vascular bacterium Ralstonia
solanacearum. arr6 mutants, which do not have functional versions of the ARR6
gene, are more resistant to PcBMM fungus but more rapidly and intensely develop
the disease symptoms caused by the vascular bacterium R. solanacearum. In
contrast, plants that display higher levels of ARR6 expression (by
transgenic overexpression) than wild-type plants or arr6-3 (e.g.,
overexpressor and complementation lines, respectively) are more resistant to the
bacteria but more susceptible to the fungus. Transcriptomic and metabolomic analyses
revealed that, in arr6 plants, canonical
disease-resistance pathways, like those activated by defensive phytohormones, were
not altered, whereas immune responses triggered by microbe-associated molecular
patterns were slightly enhanced. As in previous research approaches performed
in the lab, our findings of the bases of the resistance were again original and
out of the canons, which is something that always triggers researchers’
curiosity, making our work even more intriguing and exciting, but also risky
for publication. Moreover, the characterization of ARR6-mediated resistance reinforced
our view of plant cell wall relevance in the modulation of specific immune responses
and confirmed the opportunities provided by plant cell wall mutants for the identification
of novel and uncharacterized mechanisms of plant immunity.
hypothesized that some cell wall component could be released from arr6 walls due to their observed alteration in composition and that
this compound might function as DAMP that will be recognized by a plant
receptor, triggering immunity. However, cell walls are very complex, so we had
to obtain simpler cell wall fractions enriched in main biochemical components. Remarkably,
pectin-enriched cell wall fractions from arr6 plants activated more intense
immune responses than similar wall fractions from wild-type plants, suggesting that
the arr6 pectin fraction is enriched in wall-related DAMPs. The next step
we performed in this research area was the purification of these putative DAMP molecules
from arr6 pectin fractions. Actually, we have recently described the characterization
of the immune-active pectin fractions of arr6 by further fractionation
of it by chromatographic means (Mélida et al. 2020). These analyses pointed to the
role of pentose-based oligosaccharides in triggering plant immune responses in arr6.
Specifically, we have identified pentose-based oligosaccharide structures, such
as beta-1,4-xylooligosaccharides, with specific degrees of polymerization carrying
arabinose decorations. Remarkably, these novel DAMPs, which trigger immune responses
in Arabidopsis, also activate immune responses in crops and confer enhanced disease
resistance to pathogens, including necrotrophic fungi (Mélida et al. 2020). The characterization of these new cell wall-derived
plant DAMPs represents the culmination of a long journey across novel mechanisms
of plant immunity in our lab that led us to determine the significant and specific
contribution of plant cell wall composition in disease resistance. This has been
a journey that we initiated with the necrotrophic fungus PcBMM and that has
taken us to the identification of novel, noncanonical, cell wall-mediated mechanisms
of immunity of relevance for different sets of pathogens. We sincerely guess
that our research can contribute to the development of innovative crop protection
technologies to reach the desire goal of more sustainable agriculture that will
feed the growing human population.
The June 2020
Editor’s pick for MPMI is “RNA Sequencing-Associated Study Identifies
GmDRR1 as Positively Regulating the Establishment of Symbiosis in
Soybean” with corresponding authors Dawei Xin and Qingshan Chen from the Northeast Agricultural
University in Harbin, China. To read more about Dawei you can find his bio here.
Study Identifies GmDRR1 as Positively Regulating the Establishment of
Symbiosis in Soybean
Dawei Xin and Qingshan Chen
Soybean is one of the most important
crops in the world, supplying protein and oil to humans and animals. Symbiosis
is a special characteristic of legumes that allows them to fix nitrogen from
the air. However, chemical nitrogen fertilization is still the main source utilized
in legume crops, which causes serious pollution in the environment. Too little
is understood about the mechanism of symbiosis, which impedes utilization of
symbiosis in agriculture. The benefits of symbiosis encourages us to become more
familiar with the molecular mechanism of legume–Rhizobium interaction.
The genes of Rhizobium sp. and host both play a pivotal role in
In recent decades, type Ⅲ effector (T3E) was found and identified as playing a pivotal role in
nodule formation. To date, there is no gene has been identified in a legume
host that directly interacts with T3E. Our lab has been working to identify the
genes that might interact with T3E and the soybean response mechanism to Rhizobium
spp. Considering the complex genetic background of soybean, we selected a genetic
population to identify the genes underlying symbiosis and the response to T3E.
Chromosome segment substituted lines (CSSL) with wild soybean genomic sequences
are an ideal genetic material to locate quantitative trait loci (QTL) and
mining genes in the target chromosome regions.
identify the chromosome region that might underlie symbiosis and the response
to T3E during symbiosis establishment, we screened the CSSL population, first
to compare the nodule-related phenotype and genotype of CSSL. After inoculation
with wild-type Rhizobium sp., two lines of CSSL were identified. One line
can form more nodules than the recurrent parent, and other can form fewer
nodules than the recurrent parent. This supports the hypothesis that
substituted chromosome segments play a role in the identified phenotype. The
substituted segments on the chromosome were detected by resequencing the genome
of two identified lines of CSSL and the recurrent parent.
Mining the response of
candidate genes to Rhizobium sp. and T3E
there are no single substituted segments on the chromosome, we needed to
identify the target region to reduce our workload. To accomplish this, we used
CSSL to map the QTL underlying nodule number after inoculation with a wild Rhizobium
sp. and derived T3E mutant. At the same time, RNA sequencing was performed to
detect the gene expression pattern located in the substituted segment of
chromosome. We used a wild-type Rhizobium sp. and T3E mutant strain to
inoculate the two identified CSSL lines and the recurrent parent. Many
different expression genes were found. To delimitate the region on the chromosome,
we used the QTL assistant to find the chromosome region. Because the length of
substituted segments can be identified by genomic resequencing and molecular
analysis, we can narrow down the chromosome region to a shortened region. This
was a great help to us in identifying the candidate for further work. Now,
several candidate genes that can interact with T3E have been identified, and we
have designed a more detailed experiment to elucidate the interaction
We are pleased that our work was accepted for publication by MPMI
and that we could share our findings with other researchers who we followed
during manuscript preparation.
We duly acknowledge funding from the Nature Science Foundation of China
and the graduate students of our lab at Northeast Agricultural University.
The July 2020 Editor’s pick for MPMI
infestans AVR2 Effector Escapes R2 Recognition Through Effector
Disordering,” in which Li-Na Yang and co-authors explore the role of intrinsic disorder in the development of
pathogenicity in the RXLR AVR2 effector of P. infestans. Their results
support the notion that intrinsic disorder is important for the effector
function of pathogens and demonstrate that SLiM-mediated protein–protein
interaction in the C-terminal effector domain might contribute greatly to the
evasion of resistance-protein detection in P. infestans.
Current Position: Associate professor
at the College of Plant Protection, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University,
Education: B.Sc. and Ph.D. in Plant Pathology
at Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fujian, China.
Non-scientific Interest: Traveling, walking, reading, gardening, and cooking.
Brief-bio: I am currently an associate professor at the College of Plant Protection,
Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University. I worked with Professor Jiasui
Zhan for nearly 10 years on the population genetics, molecular genetics, and
evolutionary ecology of the devastating potato pathogen Phytophthora infestans. I am interested in the effects of ecological
(biotic or abiotic) factors on the evolutionary potential and trajectory of
pathogen ecological and life history traits, such as fungicide resistance and pathogenicity governed by effector genes, etc. For
biotic factors, my research mainly
focuses on host diversification
and host resistance. We find
that compared with monoculture,
the mixture of different potato cultivars significantly slows down the evolution of pathogenicity
and fungicide resistance of P. infestans,
and late blight epidemic in the field is
also significantly reduced. This result
has been used to guide commercial production of potato in the Yunan and Guizhou
areas of Southwest China with great success. For abiotic factors, my research mainly focuses on the impacts of climate change, such as increasing atmosphere temperature
and carbon dioxide, on the evolution
of plant pathogens. We find temperature-mediated evolution of P. infestans in individual genes (e.g.
effector genes) and at the organism level. In the laboratory, P. infestans can adapt to changed
quickly, and the spatial differentiation of fungicide tolerance increases
under elevated experimental temperatures. We also find that the pathogenicity of P. infestans significantly increases as carbon dioxide
concentration increases. These results indicate late blight will become more difficult to control under future climate conditions of higher atmosphere temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations.
IS-MPMI represents an international
community—the last IS-MPMI Congress was attended by scientists from more than
50 countries—and this diversity is reflected in the authorship of articles in the
MPMI journal. Changes in the publishing landscape, both in the ways
authors publish their work and the ways readers access content, as well as a
growing awareness that research should be available to teachers, students, and
colleagues worldwide, have led to the decision to turn MPMI into
a gold open access journal. Beginning January 2021, all MPMI content
will be fully available to everyone.
Jeanne Harris, MPMI editor-in-chief, envisions
the journal as a place to tackle the big questions in molecular plant–microbe
interactions. “We want to position MPMI to be a place where the
community discusses these big questions. Not just what we’ve done but looking
forward at the big questions that face us.” She sees this move to open access
as a way to foster inclusion, drawing all voices into the discussion.
took over as editor-in-chief in 2018, MPMI has transitioned from being a
print publication to online-only delivery and made all technical advances
freely available, which were important first steps toward becoming open access.
“Plants live all over the world; microbes live all over the world,” Harris
said. “When we look at the people who make up our IS-MPMI community, we see
that the members are from all over the world, and not every place has
subscription access. It was clear that MPMI had to go open access to
reach our entire community.”
According to Krishna Subbarao,
chair of The American Phytopathological Society’s Publications Board, it was
“especially vital that MPMI move to open access because many of the
journals in the molecular area were already gold open access,” and some
European authors were prevented from publishing in journals without full open
access due to constraints from funding agencies or institutions. Subbarao
states, “We hope that the European authors will welcome this change and that
this move to gold open access attracts authors from every part of the world.”
MPMI currently makes both resource announcements and technical
advances open access so that they can be a resource for the community, and
review articles are freely available for a month. However, Harris has
championed the move toward fully open access. “These ideas and the findings
really should be shared,” she said.
With the gold open access launch in 2021,
the MPMI journal will become more accessible than ever and can serve as
a community meeting place for all. Authors are
encouraged to submit their articles now to be included in the first open access
issues. Articles submitted today will be openly available for everyone in
our community as they are published. Learn more about the journal.
The free virtual seminar series What’s New in MPMI! launched on June 10 with a presentation
by Matt Neubauer from the Roger Innes lab. Since then, there have been
six installments in the series, each featuring a 25-minute talk and a Q&A
session. This series was conceptualized and is hosted by Jeanne Harris,
the editor-in-chief of MPMI, who shares her thoughts on the value of
virtual seminars for the IS-MPMI community.
I think there’s a real hunger for
connection right now. We’ve always been a far-flung society with members across
the world, but with the increased isolation that the pandemic brings, along
with the cancellation of conferences, seminars, and classes, people really want
to connect, learn about new findings, and think about new ideas. Many IS-MPMI
members do not have colleagues at their home institutions who share their
interests in plant–microbe interactions. For us, attending conferences or
hosting colleagues from other institutions gives us a chance not only to learn
new things but also to develop our own thinking.
I’m excited about the What’s New in MPMI!
virtual seminar series, because it provides new ways for the IS-MPMI community
to connect and for MPMI to engage with readers and authors. The
interaction is outside the regular publication cycle and is much more personal,
giving readers and listeners the chance to directly interact with the authors.
Listeners can ask questions and learn more about how the research happened and
where it’s going, as well as technical details. Presenting a published MPMI
paper in this way is also exciting for authors as they get to hear what readers
think and talk directly to people all over the world about their findings.
This series also strives to build
connections within our international community and to foster inclusion. Because
our seminar series is free—no subscription, membership, or
registration fee is required—it is accessible to everyone. We are
alternating presentations between two times to appeal to different time zones.
As a result, we draw participants from around the globe to each live session.
Because each session is recorded, it makes
it possible for people in different time zones or who have conflicting
commitments to access the entire seminar, including the extensive Q&A. The
recording makes it easier for people for whom English is not a first language,
as they can relisten to different sections. The extended Q&A session gives
people time to formulate and type questions and opens the opportunity for
everyone to engage with the speaker.
To increase the ability of listeners to
engage with the MPMI journal, each article that is presented is freely
available to read through the end of the year, an important step in our
transition to making the journal gold open access starting in January 2021! Providing full access to the paper gives
listeners a chance to dive more deeply into the data or check out the methods.
Since this series launched, we have hosted
six seminars and have more scheduled. We’ve received positive feedback from
around the world. People are excited to have a way to interact with the authors,
and some have told me that they plan to use the videos as teaching tools in
their graduate seminar discussions.
This new venture has been one of the most
personally satisfying aspects of being editor-in-chief—opening up the research
in MPMI to new audiences and deepening engagement with our community.
You can find all the recordings and upcoming seminars here. Please join us!
With many conferences and regular seminar
series cancelled, and many courses being held remotely this fall, the MPMI
virtual seminar series, What’s New in MPMI!, is being used by teachers looking for
scientific seminars for their students or additional content for a course. Each
virtual seminar is given by the author of a recent MPMI article,
highlighting that article. Thus, students or faculty wanting more depth can
follow the link to the paper itself and dive into the details. All seminars are
freely available, and the corresponding papers are open access through the end
of the year, when the entire journal is going gold open access. Because all
talks are recorded, they can be used throughout the fall semester and are
especially helpful for students for whom English is not their first language,
who can relisten to especially difficult sections. Recordings of previous talks
can be found on the IS-MPMI
YouTube channel. The
schedule for upcoming seminars is available online here.
Do you use What’s New in MPMI! for
your teaching? Tell us how you use it. What have you found most useful? What
would you like to hear more about? Use the comments section below to let us
know what you think, or contact Jeanne
Japan-US Early Career Showcase: Remodeling
of the Plant–Microbe Environment During Disease, Defense, and Mutualism
Japan-US Seminar in Plant Pathology: Remodeling of the Plant–Microbe
Environment During Disease, Defense, and Mutualism will be held online September 28 and 29
and October 5 and 6 from 7 to 9 p.m. (EDT). For more information, contact Adam
Bogdanove or Lindsay Triplett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call for Nominees for the NAS Prize in
Food and Agriculture Sciences
The NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture
Sciences recognizes research by a mid-career scientist (defined as up to 20
years since completion of Ph.D. degree) at a U.S. institution who has made an
extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the
biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production.
For the purpose of the prize, areas of science with applications to agriculture
include plant and animal sciences, microbiology, nutrition and food science,
soil science, entomology, veterinary medicine, and agricultural economics. The
recipient will be awarded a medal and a $100,000 prize. The prize is endowed
through generous gifts from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
(FFAR) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The nomination deadline is Monday, October
5, 2020. For detailed nomination information, please visit the NAS