The Second International CRC 973 Symposium “Bridging Ecology and Molecular Biology: Organismic Responses to Recurring Stress” was held in Berlin (Germany) from April 09-11, 2018. It was organised by the Collaborative Research Centre 973 #sfb973 “Priming and Memory of Organismic Responses to Stress” in the lecture hall of the Botanic Garden and Museum. The Vidi team (Niccolo, Lotte and me) and Cindy came all the way from Wageningen by train to present posters and/or listen to the inspiring talks. Invited speakers like Matthias Erb and Gary Felton gave nice presentations on recent developments in their labs on plant-insect interactions, Niccolo and a few other selected PhDs gave a pitch on their posters. Georgios and Luis gave a funny and informative #scicomm on the research on insect egg-induced defences conducted at the Monika Hilker lab. Both 'Pieris egg' teams from Berlin and Wageningen exchanged their research during the delicious coffee and lunch breaks. An excursion with dinner organized on a boat driving on the river Spree through the city of Berlin was the highlight of the non-scientific part of the symposium. Thanks a lot to the organizers @sfb973 for three nice days!
It was a great honor to be selected as one of the three young WUR scientists (together with Joris Sprakel and Ingrid Boas) to speak at the 100 years anniversary of Wageningen University and Research. Before it started a picture was taken with all (emeritus) WUR professors, rector magnifici from all Dutch universities, mayors of Wageningen and the surrounding municipalities and the invited speaker Lee Cronin (purple trouser). During the cortege we walked with all the 'pinguins' over the campus into the lecture hall of Orion filled with about 1000 people - my husband Ties and our two daughters among them. Speeches by the rector magnificus Arthur Mol and Lee Cronin preceded our talks which were on how our research contributes to the unravelling of life. Natural ways of fighting harmful insects (me), migration patterns after a hurricane (Ingrid) and dancing molecules (Joris) were at the centre of attention. After, honorary doctorates were handed over by the rector, and the vice premier Carola Schouten and the WUR president Louise Fresco gave a speech with an intermezzo by the band Levanter. In the evening, we were invited with our partners at the gala dinner in the Hotel De Wageningse Berg and Ties and me enjoyed sitting at our assigned table together with the rector Arthur.
Diverse dinner with a diverse group
Just after New Year we met at my place to have a dinner. Everybody brought a dish more or less typical for his/her country (the Vidi/Aspasia group represents 7 nationalities!). It was a cheerful evening and nice start of the new year...looking forward to work with a great team!
In a nice informal room in the Impuls building we had a fruitful second UC progress meeting. Niccolo and me updated the participants on the progress, some failures but also promising first results. Lotte, being in the middle of her maternity leave, was able to come as well. With the gained feedback and summer season ahead we are hopefully approaching more successful months. The next meeting will be at Nunhems/ Bayer in November 2017.
Presentations and discussion
In a chique room (with a crappy screen) in Impuls building on the campus we had a nice meeting with several interesting presentations and fruitful discussions. 13 participants from WUR, NIOO and FU Berlin were present including our special guest Martin Kaltenpoth, coming from Mainz early in the morning. Georgios Valsamakis and Luis Paniagua came all the way from Berlin, Eddie Griese from Cologne. All three gave an update on their PhD project, as well as Niccolo Bassetti on the Vidi project. Antonio Cusumano talked about his Marie-Curie project on the 'Impact of third trophic-level symbionts on plant-mediated indirect interactions' and Ana Pineda gave an overview on her research on 'Soil microbes in a world of plant-insect interactions'.
Later in the afternoon, Martin gave a seminar at PSG on 'Microbial symbionts for pathogen defense in insects'. For a Friday afternoon quite many people came to listen to Martins' inspiring work on insect symbiosis. With some beers, nachos and pizza in "the Spot' at Orion we closed this nice day before going into the weekend.
Planting first Brassica rapa seedlings
Three weeks before the start of the experiments we were transferring the seedlings to pots.
Mating the butterflies to obtain egg-laying females
Is this a male or a female?
Female cabbage whites did a quick job by laying 3 single eggs on one leave within a minute.
Collecting leaf material for RNA extraction and qPCR analysis
Sampling leaf disks below and next to the egg.
On 17-20 January 2017 we had a meeting with the whole Bingo European consortium, very well organized by CABI (Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International) in Delemont, Switzerland. We had fruitful and interesting days incl. a workshop, mid-term meeting with the EU project officer and expert, a network meeting with all PhD students presenting their first results, and nice relaxing moments like snowball fights and cheese fondue in a cottage! Read more about BINGO news here.