Members of the Molecular Plant Pathogen Interactions (MPPI) and Cereal Foliar Pathogens Research (CFPRG) groups attended the 11th Regional Plant Biotechnology Forum (RPBF) at the University of Johannesburg. This Forum is co-ordinated by the African Centre for Gene Technologies (ACGT), which under the leadership of Dr. John Becker is forging partnerships around molecular technologies and shared equipment between the members University of Pretoria, CSIR, University of Johannesburg, University of Witwatersrand and ARC. The 11th RPBF was hosted by Prof. Ian Dubery and the Department of Biochemistry at UJ, and was supported generously by Inqaba Biotec. The keynote speaker was Dr. Paul Hills from the Institute for Plant Biotechnology at the University of Stellenbosch who spoke about his research on the role of volatile organic compounds in Arabidopsis growth enhancement. Prof. Dave Berger (MPPI) presented an invited talk on Genomics of grey leaf spot disease in maize, and Natrisha Devnarain (CFPRG and CSIR) presented her work on transcriptomics of sorghum under drought stress. Other talks covered metagenomics of diseased potato, proteomics of plant defence responses, a detective hunt to find the cause of “Brassica-stunting disorder”, QTL mapping in apple, and evolution of multicellularity in plants.  Dr. Sonia Philips (MPPI) chaired the morning session. Other members who braved the Gautrain/Rea Vaya bus trip from Hatfield to UJ were Dr. Maryke Carstens, David Nsibo, Miekie HaasbroekBrigitte Langenhoven and Alandi Niewoudt, despite Maryke and Brigitte who were talking (Science) so much that they got off at the wrong Rea Vaya bus stop. Now that we know the easy route from UP to UJ (or Wits) there is no excuse for more collaboration in Plant Biotechnology in the region.

Photo caption: Alandi, Miekie, Maryke, Brigitte, Dave, David at the UJ Council Chambers building Madibeng where the RPBF was held.