The schedule was packed full of interesting talks with great variety: focusing on cell biology, mathematical modelling of disease proliferation and spread, fungal pathogenicity, and evolution – all truly dynamic processes.
Medical mycology seemed to be represented particularly well at this meeting. Fungal diseases result in more human deaths than notorious diseases like malaria it is little wonder that the mycological community are forever conveying the importance of their work. Candida, better known as the fungus causing yeast infections such as thrush, was a prominent study species. Many of its constituent proteins have now been studied with the aim of adapting strains to weaken their virulence.
Plant diseases are also important. The always impressive Sarah Gurr gave an overview of future challenges in integrating research concerning plant-microbe interactions into agricultural systems. Others such as Fordyce Davidson opened my eyes to new ways of looking at ‘the plant destroyer’ (Phytophtora infestans); highlighting the importance of its produced (zoo)spores in dispersal of this highly destructive plant pathogen.
Other notable inclusions in the meeting were Antoine van Leeuwenhoek‘s Legacy, the auction (of microbiological related pieces to raise funds for future student grants), and the launch of the Fungi DataBase.
I am looking forward to next weeks offering: the BSPP Presidential Meeting 2016 – Food security, Biosecurity and Trade; the role of plant health at St Hugh’s College, Oxford 12th-13th September 2016. I will be presenting my research while trying to win the PH Gregory prize, and present a more diluted version of my research and career to sixth form school students as part of the Damaging and Deadly BSPP outreach.