RDG Conference Report of Christian Joseph R. Cumagun

Write up about the Conference

To set the tone of the 10th IMC in Bangkok, the first day opened with a stimulating key note lecture of Dr. Pedro Crous, Director of the CBS Fungal Biodiversity Centre, an Institute of the Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Sciences, Utrecht, Netherlands. I am fortunate to be currently collaborating with him on Cercosporoid fungi. His assistant, Dr. Johannes Groenewald came up to me to provide the needed data requested by the reviewers to complete our paper on the first report of Pseudocerpospora jahnii from Tabebuia in the Philippines. This data include no of molecular loci amplified and the need to deposit these sequences in the Genebank. The work will be published in the Australasian Plant Disease Notes.

I also had a fruitful meeting with Dr. Izumi Chuma, Assistant Professor of Plant Pathology at Kobe University, Japan. She is collaborating with me in the presence of avirulence genes of Pyricularia oryzae in rice in the Philippines She has sent me the import permit thru which i was able to send the 37 Philippine isolates by mil to japan for analyses for the presene of avirulence genes using molecular and Southern hybridization approach.

As a new member of the British Mycological Society (BMS), I was invited for a dinner reception on the second day. There I met the current president of BMS, Dr. Geoff Robson, whom I thank personally for the travel bursary that was awarded to me. There I also chatted with Dr. Jurgen Kohl from the Plant Research International, the Netherlands who is working on new products for the biological control of plan diseases.

Of over 1000 delegates from over 60 countries, I was glad that I was not the lone representative from the Philippines. We were four, two of whom are from Polytechnic University, De La Salle and myself. I met my colleague form Tsukuba University Dr. Makoto Kakishima who introduced to me his former student, Dr. Wen Chin Chung, Associate Professor, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan. Since the two of us are working on common fungi, Dr. Chung is open to collaborate with me on the taxonomy of Bipolaris and Fusarium.

Feedback on paper presented

I was asked what the function of the hidden resistance gene is. Based on the paper we published recently (Cumagun et al., 2014), there are four possible original functions or targets of RmgTd(t). First, RmgTd(t) is involved in the basic machinery of disease resistance and the tetraploid accessions susceptible to the white mutants and defective in this gene. Second, RmgTd(t) is a pattern recognition receptor recognizing a microbial-associated molecular patter (MAMP). Third, the effect of RmgTd(t) was not enough to arrest infection of young seedlings with aggressive wild isolated and became evident only at a later stage with the development of adult resistance. Fourth, RmgTd(t) is a potential resistance gene with no targets but happened to recognize the product of the mutated fungal gene.

Future directions of research presented

In the process (BC3F1 generation) of backcrossing of Avena isolate og Pyricularia oryzae, the fungal causal agent of wheat blast, we found color mutants with white mycelia that are associated with avirulence on all hexaploid and most tetraploid wheat lines. The detection of mutants led us to identify a hidden resistance gene, RmgTd(t), located on chromosomes 7B in tetraploid accession Tat4. The gene responsible for color mutation and avirulence seems to correspond to RmgTd(t) involved in a gene-for-gene interaction. Future work on the cloning of the gene responsible for the unique characteristics of the mutant is needed.

Potential foreign collaborators

  1. Dr. Wen Chin Chung, Associate Professor, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan-At UPLB, we are currently working on defense responses of corn and rice in adapted and non-adapted Bipolaris spp. using cytological and cross-infection analyses. Dr. Chung work on reidentification of Bipolaris spp. causing brown spot of rice and water bamboo in taiwan is relevant t our  quest to differentiate the rice and the corn isolate of bipolaris through molecular phylogeny analysis. Dr. Chung expressed his interest to collaborate on this project.
  2. Dr. Jurgen Kohl from the Plant Research International, The Netherlands-Once, we have established the consistent performance of our biocontrol agents against fungal diseases of banana, I will forged partneship with his group in the commercialization of our local isolates.

Other important contacts and insights

Dr. Margaret Whalley, Treasurer of Microbiology in Schools Advisory Committee (MiSAC), a registered charitable organization based in the UK.

Dr. Whalley explained her outreached activities in bringing science to the public by holding poster competitions on mycology to high school students in Thailand. I conducted a similar activity in promoting mycology to elementary students in the Philippines when I was president of the Mycological Society of the Philippines, Dr. Whalley’s project was the first of its kind outside UK and is open to pursue this kind of activity in the Philippines.

Short write-up of one’s participation (to be used to feature/publicize the grantee’s participation in the conference)

I presented an orap paper entitled, “Identification of a hidden resistance gene in tetraploid wheat using laboratory strains of pyricularia oryzae produced by backcrosses” at the 10th International Mycological Congress in Bangkok, Thailand during a topic symposium on genetics and genomics of fungal host-specificity and evasion of host held on the first day (August 4), The paper was classified under Scientific tHeme 2: Genomics, Genetics and Molecular Biology. The convenor of the symposium is a prominent fungal geneticist, Dr. Li-Jum Ma of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA. The symposium papers were presented by mycologists from UK, USA, New Zealand, Germany, Thailand and one from the Philippines of which I represent.