2020-Q12 IS-MPMI Interactions Issue 4 (copy)
Ashley Carlin, communications coordinator for IS-MPMI, recently asked authors Ralph Panstruga and Matthew Moscou questions about their recently published review article addressing one of the MPMI journal’s Top 10 Unanswered Questions, “What is the molecular basis of nonhost resistance?” This Q&A is designed to serve as an entry point for students and to function as a useful tool for teaching. The answers will be used to develop a press release related to the article and disseminate the information to a wider audience.
Also in this issue...
Arnaud Djami Tchatchou and co-authors show how plant hormones like auxin are involved in disease resistance. Their results show that auxin signaling in the host affects salicylic acid synthesis and can lead to susceptibility. They also found that auxin can modulate virulence gene expression in bacteria (Pst DC3000).
Muhammad Asyraf Md Hatta, a former graduate student in the lab of Brande Wulff at the John Innes Centre, discusses a collaborative study focused on the functional and evolutionary characterization of a wheat gene, Sr22, which confers broad-spectrum resistance to stem rust in wheat.
MPMI Editor-in-Chief Jeanne Harris has invited three early-career professionals to serve as assistant feature editors on her editorial board: Morgan Carter, Elizabeth Deyett, and Juan S. Ramirez. These editors will explore new ways to present and amplify MPMI journal articles.
The MPMI journal is going gold open access! To mark this transition, we’re unveiling a preview of the new cover. All papers submitted now will be published open access. Are you ready to publish gold open access in MPMI?
IS-MPMI has launched Connect, a website where members and nonmembers can interact with one another to increase communication, collaboration, networking, and inclusion. Visit the website to find a discussion or group and connect with colleagues around the world.
Over the next year, IS-MPMI will be holding regularly scheduled international mini-symposia to connect researchers with the latest advances and discoveries in plant-microbial biology. Members are invited to recommend topics for these workshops.
Join IS-MPMIConnect to Stay Connected
We are always looking for content for Interactions. Please contact Interactions Editor-in-Chief Dennis Halterman with questions or article ideas.
Carlin, communications coordinator for IS-MPMI, recently asked authors
and Matthew Moscou
questions about their recently published review article addressing one of the MPMI journal’s Top 10
Unanswered Questions, “What is the molecular
basis of nonhost resistance?” This Q&A is designed to serve as an
entry point for students, and function as a useful tool for teaching. The answers
will be used to develop a press release related to the article and disseminate the
information to a wider audience.
1) Why were you interested in being a part of the Top 10 Unanswered
Questions series, and what attracted you to this question in particular?
When the idea of the Top 10 Unanswered Questions was brought
up at the IS-MPMI congress (one of the world’s most important scientific meetings
in the area of plant–microbe interactions) in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2019, we were
immediately fascinated by the project. Since we both have published expertise in
the area of nonhost resistance, it was somewhat self-evident that we could contribute
with a review article on this relevant question. We have felt for quite some time
that some concepts and terms in the field are ambiguous and possibly misleading
and that it would be just the right time to sum up the present knowledge, but also
to clarify a few aspects and to raise a few fresh ideas.
2) Why is this an important question to ask?
Scientists, from molecular biologists to plant breeders, have
noticed in nature that the majority of pathogens infect only a few species. This
long-standing phenomenon has driven the motivation to study the interaction of plants
and pathogens that do not normally infect them. Often this motivation is pragmatic.
There are several plant species that have little, if no, resistance to a pathogen.
Observing that closely related species may be resistant, scientists have been motivated
to identify the biological process that makes these plants resistant. This motivation
can also be more fundamental, stemming from the desire to understand the relationship
between resistance to a pathogen that typically infects a plant versus related pathogens
that never infect a plant. By uncovering the mechanism underlying resistance, it
not only helps our understanding of the plant immune system, but it may uncover
previously unknown aspects of immune signaling and regulation. Scientists ultimately
hope to be able to transfer part of this knowledge into improved disease resistance
against a broader spectrum of pathogens.
3) Why is this an important question to ask now?
Plant pathogens are a persistent threat to agriculture. They
limit how much food is produced, where we can grow crops, and increase food waste
(how many times have your strawberries become infected by grey mold?). Science has
contributed substantially to reducing the impact of disease, through the development
of pesticides, altering cultural practices in the field to limit the development
of disease, and breeding resistance from wild crop ancestors into elite crop cultivars.
Despite these efforts, the modern world undermines some of these efforts; for example,
the greater accessibility to global transport around the world has contributed to
the movement of plant pathogens into new environments. The field of nonhost resistance,
guided by approaches that already exist in nature, sets out to identify novel ways
to engineer resistance to these plant pathogens. Another aspect that makes this
question a timely one is the occurrence of new plant diseases due to globalization
and agricultural practices (e.g., extended monocultures). A prominent example is
the recent emergence of wheat blast disease caused by the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae, which for a long time was unable to colonize
4) What are some of the things we know about this topic, and
what are some important things we don’t know?
We have learnt over the last two to three decades that nonhost
resistance is usually a multigenic trait (i.e., a feature controlled by many genes).
It is largely governed by the characteristic attributes of a given plant-pathogen
constellation. Pre-existing and induced physical barriers (such as the plant cuticle,
a waxy covering of the epidermis) and the secretion of antimicrobial molecules (such
as toxic metabolites or defense-associated peptides) are often key factors in nonhost
plant resistance. More recently, scientists have recognized the interplay of host
NLR-type immune sensors and secreted pathogen effector proteins as another important
determinant of nonhost resistance. NLR-type immune sensors were assumed for a
long time to play a role primarily in resistance to adapted plant pathogens, while
their role in defeating nonadapted (“nonhost”) pathogens was less clear. Altogether,
this led to the insight that nonhost resistance essentially is a phenomenological
concept that mechanistically relies on the regular armory of the plant immune system
that is also active against adapted pathogens. Examples of conditional (e.g., temperature-
or tissue-dependent) nonhost resistance have been described more recently, and it
has become clearer that disease susceptibility and nonhost resistance are the extreme
ends of a continuum, with many possible intermediate outcomes. Accordingly, due
the presence of cryptic infections, we are probably not yet aware of the full host
range of some pathogens. While the contribution of microbial commensals (microbes
that naturally inhabit plant organs without causing any harm) to plant immunity
has emerged during the past few years, their explicit role in nonhost resistance
has not been demonstrated yet. Finally, our knowledge on nonhost resistance largely
relies on findings obtained in a handful of (model) angiosperm plant species that
are genetically very tractable. We do not know yet to what extent these insights
can be generalized, especially with respect to nonangiosperms.
5) Why don’t we have the answer yet—what have been some of
We usually only appreciate plant diseases when they become visible
to the naked eye, i.e., in the form of more or less severe disease symptoms (e.g.,
wilted leaves or fungal colonies on the plant surface). Cryptic infections are invisible
to the naked eye and might be hard to detect even under a microscope. DNA sequencing
methods may help to recognize the undetected presence of pathogenic plant invaders.
This requires ultradeep sequencing, which only became available more recently. To
test the contribution of microbial commensals to nonhost resistance, we need reconstitution
experiments with synthetic microbial communities (i.e., communities experimentally
composed by in vitro-grown microbes)
in combination with germ-free plant systems. These tools were established only
recently for some model plant species and are not yet available for many agriculturally
important crop plant species.
6) What are the most recent advancements in this area?
As stated above, the contribution of NLR-type immune sensors
to nonhost resistance is a comparatively recent insight. So far, their involvement
has only been demonstrated in nonhost plant species that are closely related to
the host species of a given pathogen and to nonadapted pathogen species that are
closely related to an adapted pathogen species. It remains to be seen whether their
participation in nonhost resistance can also be validated for more distantly related
plant and pathogen species.
7) If we were able to answer this, what might we learn?
We will appreciate better that susceptibility and resistance
are the extreme outcomes of interactions between plants and pathogens, with all
kinds of intermediate forms possible. We may also get to know yet undiscovered “reservoirs”
of plant pathogens on some plant species, which can help to sustain disease on crop
plants. If they exist, it will be important to incorporate their existence into
any strategy to control a plant pathogen. We will further comprehend whether microbial
commensals also contribute to resistance against nonadapted pathogens, which could
form the basis for future plant protection measures. Finally, these insights will
complete our picture of the plant immune system.
8) Is there anything else you’d like to tell me about this
This question is fundamental to understanding why some plants
get infected by a particular pathogen and others do not and, vice versa, why a given pathogen can only
successfully colonize a limited number of plant species, which collectively form
its “host range.”
The August 2020 Editor’s Pick for MPMI is, “Dual Role of Auxin in Regulating Plant Defense and Bacterial Virulence
Gene Expression During Pseudomonas
syringae PtoDC3000 Pathogenesis,” in which Arnaud Djami Tchatchou and co-authors show how plant hormones like auxin are
involved in disease resistance. Their results show that auxin signaling in the host
affects salicylic acid synthesis and can lead to susceptibility. They also found
that not only does auxin suppress host defense, but that it can also modulate virulence
gene expression in bacteria (Pst DC3000).
Dual Role of Auxin
in Regulating Plant Defense and Bacterial Virulence Gene Expression during Pseudomonas syringae PtoDC3000 Pathogenesis
Name: Arnaud Thierry Djami Tchatchou
Research scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, USA.
Education: B.S. and M.S. degrees in biochemistry from the University of Yaounde
I, Cameroon, and Ph.D. degree in molecular biology from the University of the Witwatersrand,
Interests: Cooking, bible study, having fun with
Brief-bio: I was born in a small village, Ndoungue, in Cameroon and raised up
by my grandparents, who were famers and hunters. Each time my grandfather brought
an animal home for food I was curious to see what was inside the stomach and the
head. As a primary- and high-school student
I was fascinated by biology and learning about the natural world and the ways in
which organisms interact with their environment, which were more real to me than
mathematics, literature, etc.... As I was growing up with my grandparents, we cultivated the ground manually to sow
cassava, sweetpotatoes, maize (see photo), and many vegetable crops. This is how my passion for
plants originated. Seeing my grandparents struggle with plant diseases in those
days, which sometimes resulted in severe losses in agricultural yield, I was curious to know why our crops couldn’t
defend themselves against those diseases. These struggles and difficulties faced
by my grandparents became the motivation that led me to study and seek to understand
how plants defend themselves against pathogen attacks. Since then I have been fascinated by the field of
plant biology and ways to address issues of global importance, such as improving
agricultural productivity and ensuring sustainable food security. As a graduate
student and post-doctorate, I have sought to understand the molecular basis of plant
disease resistance using a wide array of approaches, including biochemistry and
Throughout my scientific career I have used various organisms (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, Colletotrichum sublineolum, Pectobacterium
carotovorum, and Pseudomonas syringae),
as well as some
defense priming agents (isonitrosoacetophenone, hexanoic acid, azelaic acid,
and bacterial lipopolysaccharide),
to study their interactions with both model plants (Arabidopsis thaliana
and Nicotiana tabacum) and crop species
(avocado, sorghum, tomato, and chili pepper). I have identified and characterized various defense-
and virulence-related genes to uncover
the mechanisms of plant disease resistance and virulence. In Prof. Barbara Kunkel’s group
at Washington University in St. Louis, my research focus is to investigate the roles
of the plant hormone auxin (indole acetic acid [IAA]) during pathogenesis of P. syringae DC3000 on A. thaliana. I found that
P. syringae uses IAA in at least two different
ways to promote virulence and disease: as a plant hormone to suppress plant defenses
and as a microbial signaling molecule to regulate virulence gene expression (the
subject of the paper we just published in MPMI). Currently, my research focus is to translate the scientific discoveries about
auxin that we made using Arabidopsis to two agriculturally important plants, tomato and cassava, using
Xanthomonas campestris, an economically important pathogen. This study
will provide new insights into mechanisms regulating Xanthomonas–host interactions that can be exploited
to develop new strategies for protection of tomato and cassava against devastating
plant diseases caused by X. campestris.
During the years I spent here I have
learned a lot about working with transgenic plants and gained more knowledge in
microbiology with excellent mentorship from Prof. Kunkel, which I think will boost
my research career.
The November 2020 Editor’s Pick for MPMI is “Extensive Genetic Variation at the Sr22 Wheat Stem Rust Resistance
Gene Locus in the Grasses Revealed through Evolutionary Genomics and Functional
Analyses.” The first author is Muhammad Asyraf Md Hatta, a former graduate
student in the lab of Brande Wulff at the John Innes Centre. To read more
about Asyraf, you can find his bio here. Asyraf is now a senior
lecturer at the Faculty of Agriculture, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Below
is some background on Asyraf’s project that led to the publication in MPMI.
Variation at the Sr22
Wheat Stem Rust Resistance Gene Locus in the Grasses Revealed Through Evolutionary
Genomics and Functional Analyses
Submitted by Muhammad Asyraf Md Hatta
Wheat stem rust caused by the fungus Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici is a major disease
of wheat. The disease epidemics in major wheat-growing areas around the world pose
a major threat to global food security. Fungicide application can only partly control
this disease. Therefore, the deployment of resistance genes remains the preferred
This has been one of the research focus areas of Wulff’s group at the
John Innes Centre, UK, with which I worked during my Ph.D. studies. In our previous
manuscript, we reported the cloning of the
Sr22 gene, which confers broad spectrum resistance
to multiple races of P.
graminis f. sp. tritici, including the Ug99 race group. In a similar study, we
also identified several Sr22 alleles from
both Triticum boeoticum
and the domesticated form of this species, T. monococcum.
Following the cloning of the gene, our industrial
collaborator, the 2Blades Foundation, gathered information for their patenting and
deployment strategy. The patenting process required information on the functional
testing of the different Sr22 alleles driven by domesticated native and
non-native 5′ and 3′ regulatory elements.
This patenting strategy motivated us to
generate a suite of Sr22
chimeric constructs. Since one of my Ph.D. projects involved development of
gene constructs using the Golden Gate cloning method, my supervisor had assigned
me the task of collaborating with other colleagues from my group, as well as from
the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Canberra, Australia.
From that point, I was given the opportunity to lead the project, and
I studied the sequence relationship between the alleles, in which I found evidence
of extensive historical recombination between alleles. The analysis also revealed
the greatest sequence variation in the leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain, in line
with its proposed role in pathogen recognition specificity.
We also functionally characterized three of the alleles in transgenic
wheat, in which two of them were found to confer resistance to the Ug99 isolate,
thus advancing our previous work on cloning the gene.
We then expanded the work to include a large-scale comparison of the
Sr22 locus across
monocot species. This is when we discovered the surprising large-scale expansion
of the Sr22 locus
in the barley and oat lineages. Based on a comprehensive search of the genomes and
transcriptomes of 80 plant species, it appears that the gene is conserved among
grasses in the Triticeae and Poeae lineages. All Triticeae species examined in this
study contain a single copy of the gene, except barley, which has undergone complex
expansions and rearrangements.
Earlier this year, MPMI journal Editor-in-Chief Jeanne Harris spearheaded an effort to
add assistant feature editors to her editorial board. She looked for creative
individuals who will explore new ways to present and amplify journal articles.
She was specifically interested in early-career researchers who would best
benefit from a behind-the-scenes look at the journal and the chance to work
with the MPMI editorial board.
After reviewing submissions from many qualified applicants, Harris
invited Morgan Carter,
and Juan S. Ramirez
to be assistant feature editors for MPMI. They will serve two-year terms and
contribute 5–8 hours a month.
“I selected these individuals for their interest and skill in
science communication, as well as for their creativity. I’m really excited to
start working with them!” said Harris. “My main goal is that they will work
with us to help integrate the MPMI journal more deeply into the research community.”
Harris imagines the assistant feature editors working on paper
summaries for newsletters and press releases, helping with social media
promotion, working on the Microgreens
podcast, and writing biographies for the first authors. MPMI assistant
feature editors will also help with the journal’s big campaigns, including the Top 10 Unanswered
Questions in MPMI, the transition to open access, and the January focus issue. She also anticipates that they will come up with their own ideas
to amplify important MPMI
“I would love to have an MPMI blog, more intersection with IS-MPMI’s Interactions,
increased representation of diverse voices, and also stronger links to the
wider international community,” Harris said. “The assistant feature editors are
all enthusiastic, engaged, and full of ideas. I can’t wait to see what will
come out of this!”
Assistant Feature Editors!
University of Arizona
1) Introduce yourself—your background, where you are now, and your
current research focus?
I’m Morgan Carter, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of
Arizona in Dr. David Baltrus’ lab in the School of Plant Sciences. I
grew up in North Carolina, USA, and attended North Carolina State University
for my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. My first experience with
plant–microbe interactions was working with tiny banana plants and a pink,
fluffy, killer fungus—I was hooked. I graduated in May 2020 with my Ph.D.
degree in plant pathology from Cornell University, where I worked on bacterial
effector proteins and plant resistance genes. My current research focuses on
plant–fungal–bacterial interactions and how bacterial endosymbionts impact
fungal behavior. It’s a relatively new area, so there is a lot to discover
about how bacteria manipulate fungal hosts and how that impacts plant health!
2) Why did you apply to be an assistant editor?
As an early-career researcher, I’m still learning about journals
and was hoping to get a glance at the process, from reviewing to promotion to
innovation. It seemed like a great opportunity to help promote a society
journal that I’ve published in and care about. I appreciate all the new
initiatives to build the MPMI
community, especially virtually, and wanted to be a part of that.
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’ve seen how affirming it can be to early-career researchers to
not only have a paper published in a respected journal but then be an Editor’s
Pick or other spotlighted study. I want to find other ways to promote first
authors and other early-career researchers, giving them a positive experience
with the MPMI
journal and community. I’d also like to practice my own science communication
skills by writing accessible technical and nontechnical summaries and tweets of
articles. While I’m still trying to decide the specific focus of my time as an
editor (there are so many options!), I am really excited to play a part in
promoting the findings of outstanding plant–microbe research and directly
connecting with a global community.
Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics, KU Leuven
yourself—your background, where you are now, and your current research focus?
I come from
Bogotá, Colombia. I am a passionate plant molecular biologist interested in the
molecular mechanisms underlying plant–microbe interactions and plant responses
to environmental cues. In the past I have worked in various fields related to
plant–microbe interactions, including plant–bacteria symbiosis and the epigenomic
regulation of immunity. Currently, I am a postdoctoral fellow on the
Plant–Fungi Interactions team from the Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics,
KU Leuven (Belgium). My current research project aims to identify and
characterize regulators involved in induced systemic resistance (ISR) triggered
by Trichoderma spp.
2) Why did
you apply to be an assistant editor?
I applied to
become an assistant editor because, apart from my scientific interest, I have
always had a huge passion for reading and writing. I also really enjoy
reviewing science and contributing to make research publications better—both
content and form-wise. I am positive that as an assistant editor I will be able
to contribute to MPMI
with my scientific skills but also learn about the backstage behind the
peer-review process and publication in science.
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 am aware of
the need to communicate and divulge research to make it as available as
possible for whoever wants or needs it. I want to increase the visibility and
reach of the research published in MPMI. With the current technologies, there are
plenty of tools we can use to ensure this, and I am convinced that the assistant
editor initiative will have a positive impact on the journal’s trajectory,
especially now that it is transitioning to open access. I look forward to
seeing the results of this new collaboration and witnessing the journal grow
during the process. I am also looking forward to learning from the editorial
staff and their experience in the publishing world.
University of California Riverside
yourself—your background, where you are now, and your current research focus?
I grew up in
a town so small, my high school was more populated. After high school I went to
the University of New Hampshire to become a genetic counselor but quickly
changed majors to microbiology after my first microbiology course. Not really
knowing what to expect in graduate school, I packed up all my worldly
possessions and went on the classic Route 66 road trip with my boyfriend (now
fiancé). For the last 5 years, we have immersed ourselves in California culture.
Hiking in all the beautiful landscapes California has to offer, from the
redwoods to Joshua Tree, we were determined to see them all! We completed our
little nuclear family when we adopted a cat we named Ghost and a dog we named
Yersinia (after the microbe that caused the black plague).
worked at the University of California Riverside. I was a Ph.D. student, and he
was a lab manager. With no plant background, but the promise of pursuing
microbiome research, I joined Philippe Rolshausen’s lab and quickly became the lab’s
bioinformatician. My projects largely revolved around deciphering the
endophytic (microbes living within the plant) microbiome of grapevines with the
goal of finding healthy microbes to combat pathogens like Xylella fastidiosa,
the causal agent of Pierce’s disease. I also dabbled in microbiome research of
citrus and avocado, authoring five papers.
defense was in March 2020, just days before the campus shut down. I decided to
stay as a postdoc under the mentorship of Dr. Rolshausen to continue my work on
Pierce’s disease biocontrols but also got involved in projects involving
arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, zero-waste agriculture, and grapevine nurseries.
My fiancé got a job offer in Cambridge, MA, USA, so we flew back to the East
Coast. While COVID has brought on new challenges for everyone, I am grateful I
am able to be happily employed as a postdoc on the West Coast while working in
the East Coast.
2) Why did
you apply to be an assistant editor?
always something I’ve loved doing. When I was young I wanted to be a poet, then
a novelist, then a journalist. Somewhere along the way I found science, and
that was the track I took from college on.
In the past
few months I’ve really been forced to think about my future and potential
career tracks, and that’s when I discovered you could have a career in science
writing and editing. Being an assistant editor is a great opportunity to
understand the ins and outs of scientific journals. I’ve been an author on
scientific papers, but I’m really excited to see the other side of things. It’s
a much bigger picture of the whole publishing process.
3) What do
you hope to accomplish during your time as assistant editor and what do you
most look forward to in this position?
looking forward to communicating with all the amazing scientists and broadening
my networking. I feel sometimes in research we can become very niche-oriented
and only focus on the select few who are studying the same thing as us. I
sometimes forget there’s so many other amazing people doing extraordinary work
out there. I’m hoping that this assistant editor position will give me the
opportunity to meet some really great people and share their stories with the
Take a look
at Deyett’s website.
The MPMI journal is going
gold open access! To mark this transition, we’re unveiling a preview of the new
What does this change mean?
All articles published will be immediately open to all.
Authors retain copyright while granting the public permission to use their academic work.
Authors select CC BY, CC BY-NC-ND, or CC0 license at submission.
When does this change take place?
All papers submitted now will be published open
access. Take a look at the Just Published section to see a list of our recent open access
papers. MPMI will
become fully gold open access in January 2021.
Ready to publish gold open access in MPMI?
On November 17, IS-MPMI launched Connect, a website where
members and nonmembers can interact with one another to increase communication,
collaboration, networking, and inclusion. The discussions on IS-MPMIConnect are
guided by a phenomenal group of Ambassadors with diverse
backgrounds and life experiences. On November 17, Connect hosted its first virtual
discussion, which was centered on topics relating to early-career professionals.
Discussions at the event were led by an excellent panel representing a broad range
of experiences and research backgrounds, including Dr. Pooja Saxena (Medicago, manager of product
discovery), Dr. Jacqueline
Monaghan (Queen’s University, assistant professor), Dr. Kevin Cox Jr. (Danforth
Center, HHMI Hanna Gray Fellow), Dr. Edel Perez-Lopez (Laval University, assistant professor),
and Dr. Suayb Üstün
(ZMBP Universität Tübingen, group leader). A second virtual discussion on Caregiving
During a Pandemic was held on December 1, during which parents shared and exchanged
tips on how best to cope with caregiving responsibilities during these challenging
times. An event titled Embracing Diversity was held on December 14 and was hosted
by Giles Oldroyd,
and Charles Roussin-Léveillée
from the IS-MPMI Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee. On January 20, we look
forward to welcoming Dr.
Elison Blancaflor (Noble Research Institute), who will discuss the science
and techniques behind a few of his favorite microscopy images. If you have ideas
or requests for future events, you can provide feedback on the Connect website.
The development of Connect was spearheaded by Allyson MacLean (University
of Ottawa). You can read more about her motivation to create a forum to facilitate
networking, collaboration, discussion, mentorship, and inclusion in her article in the last
issue of Interactions. Ally recruited others to help synthesize Connect, including University
of Ottawa undergraduate student Rinky Sharma, IS-MPMI President Mary Beth Mudgett, MPMI journal Editor-in-Chief
Interactions Editor-in-Chief Dennis Halterman, and IS-MPMI Board members Charles
Roussin-Léveillée and Patricia Baldrich. The team worked quickly to implement Ally’s
vision and brought with them a collection of meaningful viewpoints, visions, and
suggestions. To highlight these viewpoints, all of the members of the team were
asked, “How do you expect IS-MPMIConnect to impact you and others, both personally
Mary Beth Mudgett:
A major challenge our IS-MPMI society faces is gathering and engaging
with the people in our field or on the periphery throughout the year, for many reasons.
At our last congress, we heard loud and clear from our members that they want more
opportunities for networking, sharing resources, mentorship, professional development,
and space to discuss and act on diversity issues. Being remote and physically disconnected
due to the pandemic magnified these desires. I see Connect as a vital platform
to gather us and provide just-in-time
content to reconnect, meet for the first time, and provide support during a time
when we are all craving intellectual and social engagement. I also see Connect
as a framework for IS-MPMI to innovate in its activities as a society and include
more voices of colleagues worldwide. I am grateful for Ally reaching out with her
ideas, as the realization of Connect is just that—a creative initiative from our
I am very much looking forward to the opportunities that IS-MPMIConnect
will provide in terms of networking and collaborating within the IS-MPMI community,
but also more broadly, within the plant biology community. In fact, I have already
met many amazing individuals who have helped organize this initiative and who are
acting as Ambassadors for IS-MPMIConnect. One area I am very keen to explore as a new professor
is how best to promote diversity and inclusion in my research group, and also in
my teaching; IS-MPMIConnect offers an excellent venue for these conversations. I
am excited to see what the new year will bring!
Although some of us work in very diverse environments, inclusiveness
is not always there. This is often due to the fact that views on this issue diverge
enormously between individuals. I expect IS-MPMIConnect to disseminate the vision
of members and nonmembers of IS-MPMI on a wide range of issues to help start conversations
on how to find solutions to create a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable society.
On a personal level, I expect to learn more about common issues that are rarely
discussed in our community. Professionally, I expect my personal learning to help
me create an ideal work and living environment for members of all communities.
IS-MPMIConnect represents the social connections and support in which
our scientific community should grow. Mentorship, group discussions, events, the
passing on of knowledge—everything that makes science worth being a part of—IS-MPMIConnect
will help the present we want to persist through and the future we want to create.
Personally, I have been endlessly astounded by just the team itself. The perseverance,
initiative, and genuine care experienced has shown to me that while difficult, academia
is growing in wonderful ways that promises a bright future if nurtured. In my personal
view, IS-MPMIConnect will provide a network for all, bringing scientists of all
ages, countries, ethnicities, and genders together in the creation of something
helpful and kind.
Humans are social animals, and we all crave and love to feel valued
by and connected with our community. Connections with other humans help us relieve
stress and boost both our mental and physical health. IS-MPMIConnect, our newly
created platform, will for sure help make new connections between people around
the world who otherwise would be strangers. I expect that this platform will provide
me, and others, the opportunity to meet and connect with people who not only have
similar interests, but are also facing the same challenges—and this to me is invaluable.
I look forward to giving and receiving advice and tips from colleagues and new friends.
As an international society, it’s always been hard to stay connected
with colleagues. Conferences fill that gap and are wonderful opportunities for connection,
but they are infrequent and not everyone can attend. The silver lining of the pandemic
is that it’s forced us to think hard about what is important to us and to think
outside the box. IS-MPMIConnect is a way for us to connect with colleagues around
the world, finding people who share our particular interests and struggles and giving
us a forum to interact. The online aspect means that people can participate across
time zones, participating in discussions asynchronously or joining a Zoom panel
to interact in a virtual face-to-face, despite enormous geographic distance. Also,
because it’s free, IS-MPMIConnect promotes inclusion, providing opportunities for
people around the world to join for whom the cost of meetings or international travel
make attending an in-person meeting impossible. I am looking forward to meeting
and connecting with people around the world on IS-MPMIConnect—see you there!
As an international organization, IS-MPMI members have always benefitted
greatly from the society’s intellectually and experientially diverse membership,
but I feel that we have struggled to promote meaningful interactions outside of
the congress or those we collaborate with on a regular basis. I envision IS-MPMIConnect
being somewhere members can discuss topics outside of science-y lab meetings, seminars,
or conferences. Ideally, this will help everyone with personal growth, as they find
and interact with others with similar interests, concerns, and goals. Professionally,
Connect offers a platform for engagement, training, and networking that is accessible
worldwide and throughout the year. I am looking forward to being a regular participant
who will hopefully learn as much as I contribute.
We need your virtual research workshop ideas! Please help us by completing this short survey
On December 2, IS-MPMI held a science workshop on Taking MPMI
Discoveries to the Field that had 103 registrants. Attendees learned about
recent research from speakers Jan Leach (Colorado State University), Brian Staskawicz
(University of California-Berkeley), Pam Ronald (University of California-Davis),
and Brian Steffenson
(University of Minnesota). The event was sponsored by Microbes Biosciences, and
CEO Brian Pusch
introduced attendees to the goals of the company.
A second workshop on the same topic is planned for February 2021,
and speakers will include Hailing
Jin (University of California-Riverside), Bing Yang (Danforth Plant Science), and
(Oregon State University).
Given the success of the workshop, uncertainty surrounding holding
in-person meetings over the next year, and a desire to continue interactions
among society members throughout the year, the IS-MPMI Board of Directors is
planning to continue holding regularly scheduled international mini-symposia to
connect researchers with the latest advances and discoveries in plant-microbial
biology. Leading junior and senior scientists will give keynote talks, and
registrants can participate in Q&A sessions and poster sessions. For
organizational reasons, there is a charge for participation. We feel this is a
super value for scientists at different professional stages who want to stay
connected with the science and network with colleagues across continents.
IS-MPMI members benefit from reduced rates for these workshops. All proceeds
will be used to support society activities, awards, and projects moving
To make these symposia a valuable resource for our members, we
need your help in identifying topics that are important to you. Please follow this link to a short survey, where you can provide ideas for future
Thank you for your continued support of IS-MPMI.
is a virtual platform offering members and supporters an easy way to stay
connected to our community and each other. Join today to participate in discussion groups on Work/Life Balance, Early Career Professionals, Parenting and
Caregiving in STEM, and Inclusion & Diversity. We can’t wait to see you