The second Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum for 2018, co-hosted by the ACGT and the University of Johannesburg, centered around plant-pathogen interactions; a particular area of interest for numerous researchers in the partnership and beyond. As is appropriate in the “-omics” and systems biology era, the theme for the forum was “Advances in Plant Defense Responses: Towards Plant-Pathogen System Perspectives”. The topic was deliberately chosen to provide a platform for those who aim to unravel such responses from a wider systems perspective.
The wide variety of presentations, most with a focus on genome-wide approaches to deciphering plant defence systems, managed to attract in excess of 60 delegates from a range of universities, science councils (the majority being from ACGT partner institutions) as well as funders. The keynote speaker for the event was Dr Naadirah Moola, a researcher associated with both the University of Cape Town and the University of Ghent, Belgium. The title of her address was “A cereal killer’s killer: chitosan and plant defence”. Her address was followed by ten additional presentations, mostly from researchers associated with the Universities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. The presentations included studies utilizing technologies including transcriptomics, proteomics, multi-platform metabolomics, as well as combinations of the above. In addition, classical biochemical approaches were also utilised in addressing the research questions at hand.
The forum provided an excellent networking opportunity for researchers active in this field and exposed them to different approaches to elucidating plant-pathogen interactions in different systems.
The ACGT would like to sincerely thank the organizing team at ACGT (Thabo Khoza, Molati Nonyane and Itseng Malao), as well as UJ (Dr Farhahna Allie, Dr Ian Dubery and Dr Fidele Tugizimana).