The theme of this year’s British Society for Plant Pathology (BSPP) Presidential Conference held at Newcastle University in the UK was “Microbial Lifestyles – from saprophytes to pathogens”. Professor Dave Berger of the Molecular Plant-Pathogen Interactions group at FABI presented an invited talk to fit the theme entitled “The lifestyle of the maize foliar pathogen Cercospora zeina – shy invader or party animal?”.  BSPP introduced a new conference activity called “Tools and Tricks of the Trade”, which are mini-master classes in an aspect of plant pathology.  Dave presented one of these interactive events where he shared his experiences on the topic “Field surveys: boots in the ground, apps and artificial intelligence”.  He also participated in the lunchtime “Career Chats” session for early career researchers. 

Newcastle is in the north of England, so Dave also visited the James Hutton Institute in Dundee, Scotland. This was to strengthen collaborative links with Proff. Paul Birch and Petra Boevink (who attended SASPP2022), and Ingo Hein and others at JHI.  Dave presented a seminar entitled “The maize grey leaf spot pathogen, Cercospora zeina: field surveys, populations, and genomes in Africa”.  While in the UK, Dave visited Dr Bridget Crampton, who now works for Forest Research UK at the Alice Holt Research Station in Surrey. Bridget gave a quick overview of some of the local UK tree pests and pathogens on a walk through the extensive forest around the research station.