Meeting Report: Monogram 2019

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Published on: July 31, 2019

by Cara Wheeldon, University of Leeds working in the Bennett Lab.

This April I attended Monogram 2019, my first conference, and I have to say that I had a great time. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was very pleased to discover how friendly and welcoming the UK cereal research community is. In addition to academic researchers, representatives from plant breeding companies were present.

The conference talks were grouped into sessions each with a different focus. I was fascinated to learn about all the exciting developments in cereal research from across the UK, and how varied these areas are. From grain size to root morphology to nutritional gain, the field is vast and brimming with new discoveries and technological developments.

I was especially interested in the work being carried out at NIAB, as presented by Alison Bentley. As my research is focussed on how plants respond to physical aspects of the rhizosphere such as soil volume and the presence of neighbouring plants, I found Vera Hecht’s work on field sowing density to be of particular interest. As highlighted by Vera, space is a valuable commodity in farming and over sowing can have costly, negative effects on plant growth. Research into this subject area has highly valuable applications to crop production.

Alison Bentley presenting her research. Photo @StephanieSwarbr

On the second day, there was an open discussion about the current and future requirements needed to facilitate advances in cereal research. Issues raised included the need for improvements in database access and use, in order to aid the exchange of knowledge amongst the research community.

On the first day I had the opportunity to present my poster titled ‘’Root density sensing allows pro-active modulation of shoot growth to avoid future resource limitation’’. During the poster session, and indeed during the following few days, I was able to have incredibly interesting and thought-provoking discussions with many of the delegates about both my own and their research. I certainly found this opportunity to discuss ideas with people from different areas of crop research highly valuable for project progression and forming new connections.

Cara presenting her poster. Photo @CaraWheeldon

Despite being a Masters by Research student, I achieved highly commended for my poster in the PhD category, several months before embarking on my PhD. I found this to be a brilliant validation of my hard work and dedication to this area of research and I am incredibly grateful for the recognition.

I would like to thank GARNet for providing me with a travel grant to attend this year’s conference and I hope to see you all next year!

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