The 17th IS-MPMI congress was a great success for the almost two thousand members involved. Presentations varied largely, with specialists and generalists all showing off their microbial knowledge on topics entailing plant-microbe interactions; their coevolution, signalling, hormones, symbioses and ecology. And it was agreed that Phytophtora (the plant-destroyer) was the greatest microbial threat to plants.
I presented an overview of my work at the University of Reading as well as exclusively on the Powdery Mildew Citizen Science Survey. Both were successful and stimulated conversation.
Amongst the relentless schedule we were given Wednesday afternoon off. A local tour company was on hand to provide entertainment and they helped myself and around 20 other conference goers to explore Oregon’s famously productive agricultural land. The state is lush and seems to grow everything one could imagine and more — the local supermarkets and farmers markets are fascinating to explore for food, cut flowers and horticultural plants. It is also a hotbed of local products — great breweries, fruit and vegetables, foraged berries and mushrooms, and vineyards. When in Rome…
Our tour focused largely on the wine producing regions and we were lucky enough to sample wines from three different vineyards. While the state of California is most famous for its great quantity of wine produced (with an economy fourth largest in the world if it was considered a country), Oregon is an area that rivals European producers for quality. The vines themselves are grown exclusively on the slopes of the Willamette Valley. Here they are made to work for their nutrients, unlike other crops on the valley floor. This enables the vines to establish an extensive root network; digging down through varying soil layers and giving the grapes themselves great complexity of flavours.
Throughout my trip I was on the lookout for my favourite fungus in order to see if its growth and favourite hosts varied much from the UK. I have collated these into a separate blog.