From July 14-18, scenic city Montreal, Canada hosted the 2018 Annual Conference of the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) in conjunction with the Canadian Society of Plant Biologists (CSPB). With 1629 attendees from 52 countries, the conference showcased 4 major symposiums and 30 concurrent symposiums- each hosting 5-6 speakers on topics ranging from education to cutting edge research in plant science. The detailed list of the topics and the speakers are listed in this Published Schedules . The presence of a dozen of vibrant and engaged Bangladeshi origin plant scientists in the conference was very noteworthy. The group was represented by two University professors, two Post-doctoral fellows and eight graduate students. They came from Germany, Belgium, Canada, Sweden, and USA. The group informally met in a side program to network, present research, and to exchange research ideas among the participating members. Click here to know in details.
Noted among the attendees was the acclaimed scientist Professor Abul Mandal from the University of Skövde, Sweden who has already marked his name in his decades long research program on plant abiotic stress pathways. Especially his contribution in the understanding of the arsenic contamination and bioremediation approaches have been widely published. In the conference, he presented his research detailing a novel arsenic bioremediation approach using engineering arsenic responsive genes from bacteria into the tobacco plants.
Dr. Hemayet Ullah from the Howard University brought his doctoral student Denver Baptiste who presented his research showing how a specific miRNA requires the scaffold protein RACK1 mediated the salt stress signaling pathway in Arabidopsis. In addition, Dr. Ullah also presented the research of his another doctoral student- Mr. Ahsan Rahman who missed the conference due to the visa delay. Ahsan’s research detailed the approach of activation tagging system in rice and the utilization of the system to elucidate the RACK1 mediated salt stress pathway in rice.
Dr. Nazmul Bhuiyan from the Cornell University was invited to give an oral presentation in the Concurrent symposium on Organelle Biology. His talk was titled ‘Functions and genetic interactions of chloroplast glutamyl endopeptidase (CGEP)’. He presented detailed functional study of a new protease named Chloroplast glutamyl endopeptidase (CGEP) which degrades peptides and smaller proteins, but not larger proteins. His talk elucidated the structural and biological basis of the physiological function the CGEP in plants.
Ms. Hur Madina from the University of Quebec, Canada also gave an oral presentation in the concurrent symposium on the Plant-Microbes mechanisms (session II). Her talk was titled ‘Functional characterization of a candidate effector protein of the rust fungus Melampsora larici-populina’. She discussed about a potential effector protein that this poplar tree rust fungus uses to regulate the host immunity.
Dr. Bulbul Ahmed from the McGill University (currently at the University of Montreal) presented his research on the molecular understanding of the mechanisms that dictate the plant-microbes interaction. Specifically, his research is focused on elucidating how arbuscular mycorrhiza interacts with plant and other soil microbes. He uses NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) based metagenomics. He is also focused on develop an atlas of open chromatin to generate a genome scale gene regulatory network.
Mr. Chhana Ullah- doctoral student from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany presented his research on answering the question of how woody perennial species (Populus spp.) defend themselves against pathogenic microbes. His research particularly investigates the biosynthesis, accumulation, and hormonal regulation of flavan-3-ols in poplar. He showed that poplar increased the biosynthesis and accumulation of flavan-3-ols as an effective chemical defense against rust infection. His comment about the conference “It was really exciting to meet many Bangladeshi researchers working all over the world, and get to know each other”, in essence describes the networking done at the conference.
Ms. Zobaida Lahari- doctoral student from Ghent University, Belgium presented her research on the rice and root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne graminicola) interaction. She specifically focused on the elucidation of how carotenoid-derived plant hormone strigolactones act as the susceptibility factor for the nematodes. Using genetic and biochemical approaches, her research concluded that strigolactone deficiency reduces root-knot nematode infection in rice by enhancing the jasmonic acid pathway- it opens a new avenue to study other host-pathogen interactions as well.
Ms. Umma Fatema- doctoral student from the University of Kentucky, USA presented her research on the Molecular and Cellular Dynamics in the Arabidopsis female gamete for fertilization. So far F-actin dynamics are established as the key regulator of the sperm migration for fertilization with female gamete, her research has helped identifying additional factors- Myosin and Formin to be indispensable in this pathway. Using reporter lines and genetic approach, she showed that two myosins are required to proper F-actin dynamics for fertilization.
Mr. Md. Foteh Ali- doctoral student from the University of Kentucky, USA presented his research on how environmental factors influence the seed development process in soybean. Specifically his research is focused to understand the molecular, cellular, and physiological mechanisms of how plants perceive environmental cues during the early phase and control the subsequent seed size and development. As the early (lag) phase is largely affected by the environment which in turn regulates the seed size, his research findings have potential in contributing to seed based crop yields.
Ms. Atia Amin- Graduate student from the University of South Dakota presented her unique research on how to improve drought tolerance of crop plants by using transcription factor (TF) based genetic engineering. She has identified a transcription factor KfMYB from the obligate CAM plant-Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi which is highly induced in the CAM state than in the C3 state. The plant is highly water-use efficient and expression of the TF in a C3 plant may confer drought tolerance.
A detailed description of the participants’ researches and conference abstracts are available in the accompanying long description link.
At the end of the side meeting, participants engaged in group photos, food, sight- seeing activities and with a promise to return to the future conferences. Some of the memorable photos are in the below. The next meeting in August 2019 will be held in San Jose, California and in 2020 the meeting will be held in the Washington, DC.