​​​​Concurrent Sessions​

Concurrent sessions will be two hours long filled with engaging presentations, creative discussions, and opportunities to learn about major advances in our fundamental understanding of plant-microbe interactions. ​Browse the concurrent sessions below, note that m​ore details ​will be added as they are finalized, so stop by often to see the newest information.

  • Biomolecular condensation and membrane sub-compartmentalization for immune signaling

    Organized by: Yansong Miao, Yangnan Gu, and Andres Ortiz Morea
    Description: Plant-Microbe interactions stimulate a diverse array of biotic signaling by triggering supramolecular complex assembly, which is subject to sophisticated regulatory mechanisms to achieve signaling specificity. Emerging evidence support that formation of diverse immune-induced membrane-bound or membrane-independent biomolecular condensates, spanning from nanometer-sized to mesoscale, play critical roles in coordinating plant immune signal activation and transduction. Investigation of the constituents, assembly patterns, physico-chemical properties and dynamics of these structures is a key step toward a comprehensive understanding of the plant immune signaling.

    Invited Speakers:

      Yangnan Gu, University of California-Berkeley
      Shuai Huang, University of British Columbia
      Sophien Kamoun, The Sainsbury Laboratory
      Yansong Miao, Nanyang Technological University
      Libo Shan, Texas A&M University
  • Suppression of innate immunity during nitrogen fixing symbiosis, causes and consequences

    Organized by: Pascal Ratet and Benjamin Gourion
    Description: Tissues colonized by endophytic microbes are remarkable exceptions to the rules saying that “Plants wear their gut outside”. Indeed, deep inside the plant tissues, some of these microorganisms contribute to the plant nutrition through providing reduced nitrogen fixed from the atmospheric stock. Hosting these endophytes requires bacterial and plant determinants to prevent detrimental defense reactions that would harm beneficial bacteria. The suppression of plant innate immunity in these situations raises questions about the molecular mechanisms involved as well as about the consequences on vulnerability against opportunistic and pathogenic organisms. The proposed session aims at discussing recent developments in our understanding of the molecular basis that prevent defense reactions that allow plant to host nitrogen fixing microbes as well as the positive and negative consequences of these mechanisms.

    Invited Speakers:

      Hongyan Zhu, University of Kentucky
      Yangrong Cao, University of Wisconsin
      Clare Gough, INRA CNRS LBMRPM
      Benoit Alunni
      Barbara Reinhold-Hurek, University of Bremen
  • Infection strategies in the plant-microbe dynamic

    Organized by: Natalia Requena and Naweed Naqvi
    Description: "How plants distinguish between symbionts and pathogens?" is a key question that will be addressed within this session. It will then focus on unravelling the chemical communication involved in establishing biotrophic or necrotrophic interactions between plants and major pathogens (including bacteria, fungi and insect pests). Lastly, the pathogen-associated immunity suppression mechanisms involved in keeping the plant defense in check will be discussed too.​​​​

  • Single-cell and spatial technologies: advancement of cell-type specific immunity

    Organized by: Pingtao Ding and Amey Redkar​
    Description: Plant-Microbe interactions have almost always begun at the single cellular level. Cell-autonomous immune responses are key to constraining the spread of different microbial diseases. However, pathogens are opportunistic and have their preference for infecting specific tissue or cell types. Emerging technologies such as single-cell and single-nuclei multiomics (RNA sequencing, ATAC-seq, etc), spatial transcriptomics and imaging technologies, have enable us to zoom into the single cellular level to investigate the plant-microbe interactions and host immune responses in a cell-type specific manner. These advancements provide us with novel insights into how pathogenesis works at a specific host site, and how plants defend themselves with cell-autonomous immunity.​​

    Invited Speakers:

      Jie Zhu, University of California-Davis
      Bozeng Tang, The Sainsbury Laboratory
      Tatsuya Nobori, Salk Institute

  • Environmental Impacts on Plant-Microbe Interactions

    Organized by: Christian Danve Castroverde and Xiufang Xin
    Description: This concurrent session will focus on how climate change-associated abiotic conditions (e.g. heat waves, drought, high humidity, etc.) mechanistically impact plant-pathogen and/or microbiome interactions. This session’s theme will be centred around the recently discovered organizing principles and emerging breakthroughs at the molecular level on how our changing environment intercepts plant immunity and/or symbiosis, plant defence-related metabolism, pathogen virulence mechanisms, and microbiota assembly (among others). The proposed concurrent session will be a combination of brief talks from a combination of experts around the world and a unique interactive panel discussion. This topic was ranked #2 among the Top 10 Unanswered Questions in MPMI 2019 (based on the survey conducted in the last Congress).​​

    Invited Speakers:

      Christian Danve Castroverde, Wilfrid Laurier University
      Venkatesan Sundaresan, University of California-Davis
      Yanjun Kou, China National Rice Research Institute
  • Revisiting the publishing system to promote open science

    Organized by: Karima EL Mahboubi
    Description: The scientific publishing system is a very important component, if not the most important, in the career of scientists. The number of publications and especially the name of the journals where scientists especially researchers publish dictate their career: obtaining a tenure track, promotion, grants and so on. Indeed, researchers are almost exclusively evaluated based on the impact (impact factor) of their publications. Nevertheless, more and more researchers do not find themselves in this system and start to embrace alternatives based on open science. These alternatives focus on two objectives: the need to rethink the publication process and the need to reconsider the impact of journals on researchers' careers.​​​

    Invited Speakers:

      Ksenia Krasileva, University of California-Berkeley
      William Teale, EMBO (University of Freibourg)
      Regina Mencia, ELife (Instituto de Agrobiotecnología del Litoral)
      Jessica Polka, ASAPbio
      Facundo Romani, University of Cambridge
      Sophien Kamoun, The Sainsbury Laboratory
  • RNA-mediated interactions and crop protection strategies

    Organized by: Seomun "Woogie" Kwon​ and Lucía Borniego​
    Description: RNA-mediated communication is an emerging topic in plant interactions with diverse microbes, parasites, and insect herbivores. The best characterized examples are sRNAs, exchanged in the cross-kingdom warfare between plants and pathogens. Other non-coding RNAs, such as tyRNAs, potentially coding circRNAs, and mRNAs, can be secreted by both plants and pathogens. Extracellular vesicle(EV)-dependent and EV-independent routes of RNA secretion and mechanisms of uptake, such as endocytosis, are currently being investigated. This session is intended to promote recent advances pertinent to RNA exchange between plants and microbes, and RNA-based crop protection strategies. The potential and challenges of investigating extracellular RNA and application of RNA-based biocontrols will be discussed.​​

    Invited Speakers:

      Lucía Borniego, Indiana University
      Lorenz Oberkofler, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
      Baoye He, University of California
  • Showcasing Undergraduate Research and Mentoring in Plant-Microbe Interactions

    Organized by: Sonali Roy and Liana Burghardt
    Description: T​his session invites pairs of undergraduate student mentees and their early career mentors, such as postdocs or graduate students responsible for overseeing their research, to co-present research findings. We welcome talks on any area of molecular plant-microbe interaction, from disease to symbiosis, as well as interactions with bacteria or fungi. At least half of the talk content must be presented by the undergraduate researcher. Invited speaker pairs will participate in a 12-minute panel discussion at the end of the session, where they will answer audience questions about what worked well for them in facilitating positive research progress and relationships. This session will be followed by a 1-hour speed networking session, which will feature five invited guests. Guests will be stationed at tables with themes such as industry, policy, and government jobs, international Ph.D. programs, connecting with scientific societies; and graduate student or postdoc perspectives. All conference participants are welcome. ​

    Invited Speakers:

      Ellyn Evans
      Mia Haugan
      Caio Vinícius Cardoso Mendes
  • Point-of-care molecular plant disease diagnosis

    Organized by: Mahfuz Rahman and Tofazzal Islam
    Description: Early and accurate detection and diagnosis of plant diseases are critical factors for the timely, rational, and targeted application of plant protection measures. Morphology-based diagnostics can be time-consuming and erroneous to discriminate closely related species or strains, especially at the quiescent stage. Thus, molecular detection has gained popularity as a precise identification tool for plant pathogens. While molecular diagnostics of plant pathogens started with PCR, and soon after, followed by more advanced, sophisticated tools such as real-time PCR, LAMP, nano-sensor-based and CRISPR-based point-of-care plant disease diagnostics. This session will discuss current developments in molecular plant pathogen diagnostics with applied potential for managing plant disease on the farm to reduce crop loss.​

    Invited Speakers:

      Frank Martin, USDA-ARS
      Kabin Xie, Huazhong Agricultural University
      James Woodhall, University of Idaho
      Muhammad Shiddiky, Griffith University Nathan Campus
      Houxiang Kang, Institute of Plant Protection (IPP);Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
      Yazmin Rivera, USDA-ARS
    ​ ​
  • Functional drivers of plant microbiome assembly

    Organized by: Paulo Teixeira and Ronnie de Jonge
    Description: The plant microbiome, made up by the billions of microbes that live on and in plant roots, stems, leaves and seeds, plays a crucial role in plant health and crop productivity. Technological advancements and new experimental systems have greatly accelerated our understanding of the function and assembly of the plant microbiome in recent years. In this session, we aim to showcase this current understanding and discuss the intricate interplay between plants and their associated microbes and explore how this relationship shapes the assembly of the plant microbiome, focusing on molecular and genetic mechanisms.​​

    Invited Speakers:

      Paulo Teixeira, University of São Paulo
      Ronnie de Jonge, Utrecht University
      Sarah Lebeis, University of Tennessee
      Joseph Edwards, University of Texas
  • Functions of cellular organelles in plant immunity

    Organized by: Guo-Liang Wang
    Description: Cellular organelles in plant cells play important roles in coordinating immune signaling and activation during plant-microbe interactions. Emerging evidence shows that pathogens use various strategies to either directly attack cellular organelles to disrupt their functions or indirectly influence their physiological status to inhibit immune responses. Recent advances in understanding the contributions of chloroplasts, mitochondria and peroxisomes to plant-microbe interactions and inter-organelle communications during innate immunity will be presented in the concurrent session.​​

    Invited Speakers:

      Guo-Liang Wang, Ohio State University
      Tolga Bozkurt, Imperial College
      Laura Medina-Puche, Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP) - University of Tübingen
      Carmen Castresana, Centro Nac De Biotechnologia
  • Peptide Signaling and Perception in Plant-Microbe Interactions

    Organized by: Anthony Garcia, Sonali Roy, and Lena M Muller
    Description: Plants respond to a wide range of biotic stimuli while simultaneously regulating growth and development to compete favorably in variable environments. Extracellular peptides have emerged as critical signaling molecules during symbiosis and immunity. This concurrent session will highlight recent themes in the field of plant peptides, such as: concerted action of multiple peptide signals fine-tunes plant interactions with symbiotic and pathogenic microorganisms; distinct peptide signaling pathways converge at common signaling hubs; crosstalk between classical hormones and peptide hormone signaling pathways determine plant-microbial interaction outcomes; plant hosts have evolved peptides with specialized roles during host-microbe interactions; and, microbial peptide mimics alter host physiology to enhance infection.​

    Invited Speakers:

      Maria Ercoli, University of California
      Martin Stegmann, Technical University of Munich
      Lena Muller, University of Miami
  • ​Plant responses towards vascular pathogens and phloem-feeding insects

    Organized by: Anil Madhusoodana Girija, Pritha Kundu, Danielle Marie Stevens, and Charis Ramsig
    Description: Vascular pathogens and phloem-feeding insects thrive on the same niche and contribute to significant crop loss each year. Despite this shared niche, vascular pathogens and phloem-feeding insects vary vastly in their host ranges, transmission, and disease symptomology, posing unique challenges for researchers. For solutions such as genetic resistance to be found, a better understanding of vascular host responses and pathogen/pest biology is needed. The focus of this session will be on plant defense to vascular pests and pathogens as well as on vascular pathogen biology and infection strategies. This session will have talks from a diverse group of researchers as well as a panel discussion on identifying crucial roadblocks in research on vascular-based defense responses.​

    Invited Speakers:

      Edel Perez Lopez, Université Laval
      Jonathan Jacobs, Ohio State University
      Michelle Heck, Cornell University
      Jyoti Shah, University of North Texas
  • Plant metabolites and microorganisms – multifaceted interactions

    Organized by: Kathrin Wippel and Mahdere Shimels
    Description: In this session, each member of the audience can interactively participate via a free online quiz app for mobile devices. In 15-minute presentations, speakers will integrate a maximum of five multiple-choice questions. The audience is encouraged to (anonymously) answer the question within a few seconds by clicking on their answer and results will be shown in a bar chart in real-time in the presentation. The speaker reveals the answer and continues with the talk. Questions can be general to trigger discussions, or specific to the topic. A typical short Q&A part will follow at the end of each talk. The idea is to put interesting scientific details in an entertaining, interactive environment.​​

    Invited Speakers:

      Rahul Jain, University of Amsterdam
      Akifumi Sugiyama, Kyoto University
      Vlastimil Novak
      Guy Polturak, John Innes Centre
  • PRR evolution in model and crop plants

    Organized by: Thorsten Nuernberger and Vivianne G.A.A. Vleeshouwers
    Description: Plant cell surface pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) cooperate with intracellular immune receptors to activate a robust immune response to a variety of pathogens. Recently discovered mechanistic links between signaling cascades initiated in different plant cell compartments correlate with accelerated rates of immune receptor evolution in the plant lineage. The identification of several novel plant PRRs and genome-wide analyses of receptor allele frequencies support the previously unexpected significant dynamics in PRR evolution. In this session, we will highlight new insights into PRR function, mechanistic links between cell surface PRRs and intracellular NLR receptors, and evolutionary trajectories for PRR genetic and functional diversification. Model systems such as Arabidopsis and Nicotiana as well as crop plants such as potato will be covered. A major focus will also be on PRR genetic diversity within host plant families and their (co-)evolution with various pathogens.​

    Invited Speakers:

      Lisha Zhang, Centre of Plant Molecular Biology, Eberhard-Karls-University of Tübingen
      Adam Steinbrenner, University of Washington
      Yan Wang, Nanjing Agricultural University
      Yerisf Torres Ascurra, Wageningen University and Research
      Bruno Ngou, RIKEN
  • Systems and spatial biology in host-pathogen interactions

    Organized by: Roger​ Wise and S​hahid Mukhtar
    Description: This interactive workshop is to outline strategies to interrogate plant-microbe interactions on a genome-wide scale, from models to crops. Panelists selected from IS-MPMI abstracts of students, postdocs, or early career researchers (ECR) will work with the organizers to present new data/ideas, followed by active discussion on experimental design, protein-protein interactions, single-cell sequencing, and what it means for the discovery of molecular mechanisms of pathogen effectors and their host targets. This in-depth panel-audience discussion of computational and functional approaches is to facilitate a new understanding of how plant cellular networks respond to and are re-wired by pathogens.​​

  • Intercellular Communication in MPMI: The road less traveled?

    Organized by: Tessa Burch-Smith and​ Christine Faulkner
    Description: This concurrent session will address communication between plant cells during interactions with microbes and will focus on local, cell-to-cell communication as well as long-distance signaling between distant parts of the plants. Many recent studies have illuminated the mechanisms, routes and molecular players involved in the non-cell-autonomous aspects of plant-microbe interactions representing pathogenic and beneficial interactions . Recent findings have called into question long-standing ideas about how signals are initiated and propagated, and there remain may open questions about how cells coordinate their responses to microbes in order to produce coherent outcomes that support plant health and survival. The goal of the session is to bring together scientists with diverse expertise and experience to identify the most important and urgent questions in the field of intercellular communication in MPMI. The format of the session will encourage both well established and early career scientists to share their most recent research findings and engage in open dialog about the caveats, limitations, questions that remain and strategies for addressing them​

  • AlphaFold: structural insights into molecular plant-microbe interactions

    Organized by: Josephine Maidment
    Description: AlphaFold represents one of the most notable scientific advances of the century and has already enabled exciting new insights into molecular plant-microbe interactions. Significantly, the developers have made the code available on Github. Researchers can also access AlphaFold through a Google Colaboratory notebook (ColabFold), bypassing the requirement for institutional computing infrastructure. Furthermore, the open access EMBL-EBI database now contains 200 million proteins. The aim of this concurrent session would be to introduce the uses and limitations of AlphaFold models and to showcase some of the many ways that AlphaFold is already being used to answer biological questions in the field of molecular plant microbe interactions.​​