Monogram 2019 by Laure Forquet

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Published on: May 29, 2019

Monogram 2019 was my first conference attended as part of my master degree final year internship at NIAB. As it was my first conference, I was very excited to meet the UK cereal research community.

Being very new to wheat research and having focused mainly on model plants like ​Arabidopsis thaliana so far, I really enjoyed having such a complete overview of wheat research in the UK and abroad.
The talks were organized in clear sessions making the whole conference a lot easier to follow and connect between the talks.

The wide diversity of subjects covered was eye-opening. I was very interested in the bioinformatics session which opened the conference on the first morning as it relates to my project in quantitative genetic. It introduced me to the brilliant tools that are available for wheat genetic research such as the resources from the Designing Future Wheat program.

The plenary talk from Keith J. Edwards from the University of Bristol was a very nice introduction to the conference and was a good reminder of wheat hybridization history. He offered some new insight into the origin of the genetic variation in bread wheat resulting from the unaware side-by-side cultivation of the newly hybridized hexaploid wheat with the tetraploid wheat.

Opening keynote from Keith Edwards. Photo: @GuilleMendiondo

I also really enjoyed discovering about other subjects further away from my domain such as the quality and nutrition session. I especially liked the talk from Alison Lovegrove from Rothamsted Research. She presented insights on the way to improve the quality of cereals to increase the health benefits, with a focus on white versus brown rice. Brown rice has a higher quality for health but is not very popular with consumers who prefer the taste of white rice. Increasing the nutrient and fiber content and lowering the glycemic index of white rice, without altering the taste, would help improve global health, notably by reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

I was given the opportunity to present a poster on my project at NIAB on flowering time in wheat during the poster session. I enjoyed discussing the subject with other researcher and receiving outside perspective, advice and feedback. It was also a great occasion to have one-to-one conversation with the other people presenting their posters.

At the end of the second day there was a very interesting panel discussion covering the challenges that the breeding community. The panel discussed their points of view between and took questions from the audience.

Panel discussion. Photo @HuwJonesLabour

The conference was overall pretty intense so I really appreciated the opportunity to interact and meet professional researchers and students during the tea breaks, lunches and the formal conference diner.

I am very grateful to GARNet for offering me a travel grant to attend this exciting event and I hope I will be able to return next year to have updates on all these inspiring projects and meet the community again. I would recommend any students or early career researchers interested in cereals to go to the annual Monogram meeting!

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