David Miller Bursar Emma Bennett attends Gordon Research Conference on Plant Senescence

12 Oct 2012

Emma Bennett was awarded a David Miller Travel Bursary in 2012, enabling her to attend the Gordon Research Conference on Plant Senescence. The conference was held from 8-13 July 2012 at Stonehill College, Massachusetts, USA.

The main presenters at the event were Karin Krupinska , Susheng Gan, Andreas Fischer, Carol Wagstaff, Jerry Roberts, Ian Ferguson, James Giovannoni, Shimon Gepstein and Per Gregersen.

All the key issues were discussed in relation to plant senescence - transcriptional control of senescence, epigenetics and chromatin remodelling, protein degradation, cell separation, postharvest biology, stress signalling systems, plant productivity and the role of organelles in the regulation of plant senescence and fruit ripening.

Several key genes relating to pod senescence were bought to our attention whilst the importance of analysing processes in terms of a whole system as opposed to single genes was highlighted.

Emma presented a poster, How to pimp your pod: resource partitioning in Brassica and its relationship with senescence and yield.

The poster examined how leaf and pod senescence in oilseed rape affects final seed yield and the role that plant architecture also plays in helping to increase yield.

Emma notes: Sharing my research lead to many interesting conversations about the work and where it might go in the future. More often than not attendees mentioned other relevant journal articles which I will be following up, such as flag leaf senescence in rice and how this is associated with yield parameters.

The conference provided a great environment in which to meet some of the most notable people within the field of senescence. It demonstrated what research was being conducted within this area and gave me some future avenues to consider pursuing in terms of further research after finishing my PhD, thus it has enticed me to stay within the field of plant science.

Speaking to Cornelius Barry about my work provided some enlightenment as to additional experiments that might be useful to perform so that the data can be published. Whilst no formal collaborations were formed a lot of ideas and future plans were discussed which will be followed up and this could lead to exciting advances within the field of plant senescence.

As a Gordon Research Conference the unpublished material discussed at this meeting is considered privileged and not to be shared with the wider scientific community. However, a lot of what came up has already been made public and therefore I'll be passing on the relevant papers to the rest of the research group which should aid in directing some of their research efforts, especially papers describing methods and techniques.

Being able to attend an international conference at the beginning of my career has helped fuel my enthusiasm for research and broadened my horizons in terms of the work that is being undertaken within the field of plant senescence.

Emma Bennett
Reading University

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