X INTERNATIONAL FUSARIUM WORKSHOP AND INTERNATIONAL FUSARIUM GENOMICS WORKSHOP 2008
Q. Migheli, V. Balmas
The X International Fusarium Workshop took place in Alghero, Italy, from August 30 through September 2, 2008, in conjunction with the Fusarium Genomics Workshop 2008. As local organisers, we had both the honour and the pleasure of welcoming an international group of over 230 colleagues to a lively conference that included topic areas ranging from genomics and systematics to diagnostics and disease management. The two keynote speakers were Professor Lester W. Burgess (University of Sidney, Australia) and Dr. Marie- Josèe Daboussi (Université Paris-Sud Orsay, France). Professor Burgess gave an overview of the present status of the mycogeography and ecology of Fusaria, with a special emphasis on the Fusarium species recovered from Australia, a large island continent ideally suited for such studies. Ecological investigations have contributed to understand how climate affects the distribution of species in grassland soils, and showed that some important pathogens can be isolated as endophytes from tropical grasses remote from cropping areas. Dr. Daboussi’s keynote address targeted Fusarium transposable elements, particularly those found in F. oxysporum. An exhaustive analysis of their representation, diversification, and chromosomal distribution based on recently available genome sequence provides evidence that this species has been subjected to invasion and proliferation of active transposable elements, providing a major challenge to our vision of the Fusarium genome. At the end of her talk, Dr. Daboussi announced to our International Society that she would retire at the end of 2008. As scientists and Fusarium community members, we expressed our concern about the loss of research on transposable elements in plant pathogenic fungi in general and particularly in Fusarium species. Dr. Daboussi’s laboratory has been the center of research activity on fungal transposable elements and genome plasticity for the past two decades. Most of what we know on fungal transposons is the direct result of studies made in her laboratory or by researchers who have passed through her laboratory as students, postdocs or visiting scientists. It is a pity that after Dr. Daboussi’s retirement her research group will be dispersed among different projects, with dramatically negative consequences and a waste of skills, energies and knowledge that ground more than 20 years of collective experience. Organised by the Fusarium Committee of the International Society of Plant Pathology, the Fusarium workshops are held every 5 years in conjunction with the International Congress of Plant Pathology. The next workshop is being planned for the 2013 Beijing Meeting by the newly elected Fusarium Committee Chair Ulf Thrane and Vice-Chair David Geiser. We wish to thank all session leaders who kindly agreed to summarise the main achievements presented by the Fusarium community during the Workshop.