Young researchers presented their projects on crop care at the International Nematology Conference
At the international conference “Ensuring the Future of Nematology” from May 4 to May 9, 2014, in Cape Town, South Africa, 56 young researchers discussed the latest findings and difficulties in dealing with nematodes. Nematodes are microscopic worms that can either be beneficial or detrimental to plant health and might have a huge impact on future food security. In the first part of this blog entry, we already talked to researchers Caro and Bruno about their projects. We also spoke to two other fellows working on topics concerning nematology and crop care in their PhD projects, Catherine and Patrick.
Catherine Bogner from the University of Bonn, Germany, is doing nematology research on tomatoes. Her research topic is “The relevance and mode-of-action of fungal endophytes in the biocontrol of the rootknot nematode Meloidogyne incognita in tomato”. Fungal endophytes are symbiotic fungi living inside a plant without causing disease. The rootknot nematode Meloidogyne incognita attacks plants at the roots, which then form bulky galls or outgrows, thus the name “rootknot.”
Catherine’s target is to find out if a specific nematode species is able to control a detrimental one in tomatoes. Such biocontrol agents can be very helpful, especially in Africa, because a fast growing population needs to be fed. “My motivation is to do research for the people. I want to find solutions which help farmers improve their yield efficiency, especially in East African countries,” she says. Getting in touch with other researchers is her greatest interest. Catherine was therefore especially keen to meet Kenyan scientists joining the conference as well because the nematodes used in Germany are different from the ones in Africa. “I hope to get specific input related to the situation in East African countries. At the end of my studies, I expect to say this kind of tomato is resistant against detrimental nematodes and this one is not”, says Bogner. Maybe in a few years we will find that thanks to Catherine’s research activities African farmers are able to avoid yield losses of tomatoes.
After finishing her thesis in June 2015, Catherine would like to work in crop care. That’s why the conference is also a good opportunity to establish first contacts to companies which are present in the nematode market.
Like Catherine, Patrick Norshie from Ghana presented his results at the conference. He is a PhD student from the Harper Adams University in the UK and did research on sorption of fluensulfone, a potential nematicide for the control of the potato cyst nematode, Globodera pallida. The term “sorption” describes the process of one substance becoming attached to another. He wanted to find out if fluensulfone is able to control nematode diseases on potatoes as this crop is a very important one not only in the UK but also in Africa. “Unfortunately, nematology is not given a priority in Ghana, so I hope that this will change a little bit after the conference because there are so many opportunities to improve agriculture”, says Patrick.
For Patrick fine-tuning his presentation skills and exchanging ideas with other researchers are the greatest benefits of this conference. His interest centers on how problems with nematodes are solved in other countries.
Most of the 56 young researchers presented very different research approaches to nematodes and nematicides. In our next blog entry we will see if their expectations were fulfilled and how new ideas and connections were established.
Author: Sven Heppes
More information on the conference can be found here: http://www.6thicn.com/