By: Deb Samac
It had been 45 years since the International Congress of Plant Pathology had been held in the United States. The meeting in 2018 in Boston with the annual APS meeting attracted over 2,400 people, about 1,000 more than usually attend an APS meeting. It was thrilling to meet pathologists from around the globe, learn of the recent successes in understanding and managing pathogens, and sobering to hear of the challenges to come. The meeting ran for 7 days and included four keynote sessions, 71 concurrent sessions, and over 1,250 posters.
The University of Minnesota was well represented with 13 faculty, five graduate students, two staff members and two postdoctoral scientists attending. The meeting also had a large number of satellite meetings and pre-meeting workshops. One satellite meeting was the launch of the NSF-funded International Agricultural Microbiome Research Coordination Network (RCN) led by Linda Kinkel and JP Dundore-Arias. This meeting focused on exploring the status and primary needs in agricultural microbiome research with the overarching goal to identify targets for large-scale collaborative science. Discussions continued during the week on challenges to agricultural microbiome data platforms, standards, and tools as well as the topics for upcoming RCN workshops.
Melania Figueroa was a co-organizer of the satellite meeting on Biology of Rust-Host Interactions and the Future of Durable Disease Resistance. This meeting followed up on the 2017 rust workshop at the Fungal Genetics Conference to present progress towards understanding rust diversity and delineating the molecular basis of pathogenicity. Speakers presented the latest progress in characterizing rust biology and host resistance. During the ICPP2018 meeting, Matt Rouse organized a concurrent session entitled Where the Wild Barberry Are: Alternate Hosts, New Virulence, and Rust Pandemics That Never Quit.
There were many ways to network at the meeting including Idea Cafés, informal roundtable discussions on specific topics or concerns, and One to One sessions in which experts were available to talk individually with meeting attendees. There were inspiring POD (Pathologist of Distinction) talks by APS Fellows discussing their career journeys and life experiences. The meeting also featured PhytoViews in which experts explored various points of view on topics of interest through facilitated conversations, Hot Topic sessions, and Panel Discussions. Linda Kinkel organized and was a panelist for the PhytoView session titled: Life Beyond the Crop-Exploring the Roles of Non-Agricultural Habits in Epidemiology and Plant Health. One very special event was the APS Awards Ceremony. Figueroa was recognized for her recent research on oat and wheat stem rust pathogens with the Syngenta Award. Graduate student Eric Nazareno received the J. Artie and Arra Browning Student Travel Award and Andrew Sathoff received the Stuart D. Lyda Student Travel Award.
Attendees at the meeting enjoyed the renowned seafood in Boston, including “lobstah” rolls, attending a baseball game at Fenway Park, dancing and socializing at the House of Blues, and seeing first hand the many historic sites in downtown Boston. Thanks to JP Dundore-Arias who served on the Program Planning Subcommittee and organized the One to One talks. The annual APS meeting Plant Health 2019 will be held in Cleveland, Ohio. See you there!