Siddique served as an invited speaker and chaired a nine-presentation session on nematode-plant interactions. He also was elected to the governing board member of the European Society of Nematology (ESN), and will serve a four-year term.
Siddique, who joined the UC Davis faculty in March 2019 as an assistant professor after serving as a research group leader for several years at the University of Bonn, Germany, delivered his address on “How Plants Recognize Nematodes: Signals and Signalling.”
Siddique focuses his research on "elucidating interactions between parasitic nematodes and their hosts using molecular and basic applied methodologies." Plant-parasitic nematodes are destructive pests causing losses of billions of dollars, he says on his lab website. "While these pests have been investigated mainly because they pose a major threat to food security globally, they are also intellectually fascinating due to their highly evolved interkingdom interactions with host plants."
Coomer, who recently won a worldwide competition sponsored by the International Federation of Nematology Societies (IFNS) for her three-minute thesis on root-knot nematodes, presented her award-winning video, “Trade-Offs Between Virulence and Breaking Resistance in Root-Knot Nematode.” She received a busary as well as a certificate signed by ICN president Larry Duncan of the University of Florida and conference chair Pierre Abad of France, a senior scientist at INRA, a French public research institute dedicated to agricultural science. Coomer also showcased her work on a life-sized poster.
IFNS annually hosts the three-minute thesis competition “to cultivate student academic and research communication skills, and to enhance overall awareness of nematodes and the science of nematology.” Coomer, a doctoral student in plant pathology with an emphasis on nematology, is working on her dissertation, “Plant Parasitic Nematode Effectors and Their Role in the Plant Defense Immune System.”
The international meeting, themed “Crossing Borders: A World of Nematode Diversity and Impact to Discover" to reconcile the importance of agricultural production with that of environmental conservation, drew 682 nematologists from 57 countries. Among them were 100 student and early career scientist busary recipients. The scientific program of 32 concurrent sessions included 288 oral presentations, 12 workshops, 12 keynote speakers and more than 500 poster presentations.
It was the first in-person meeting in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We show that both activities of soluble epoxide hydrolase enzyme (sEH), the center of 50 years work in the Hammock laboratory, and a second integrated phosphatase activity, discovered by us 20 years ago in the same protein, have complementary biological action in vivo, with implications in cardiac biology,” said biochemist and co-author Christophe Morisseau of the Hammock lab who researches the biology and pharmaceutical applications of epoxide hydrolase inhibition in diabetes, pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases.
The research paper, titled “CRISPR/Cas9-mediated Inactivation of the Phosphatase Activity of Soluble Epoxide 1 Hydrolase Prevents Obesity and Cardiac Ischemic Injury,” involved recombinant animal models.
The abstract reads: “Although the physiological role of the C-terminal hydrolase domain of the soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH-H) is well investigated, the function of its N-terminal phosphatase activity (sEH-P) remains unknown. This study aimed to assess in vivo the physiological role of sEH-P.”
“Such di catalytic activities of separate enzymes jointed during the evolutionary process have been said a Rosetta stone for understanding cell biology,” said co-author Hammock, a UC Davis distinguished professor who holds a joint appointment with the Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. For the past 50 years, the Hammock lab has been studying sEH inhibitors, leading to drugs that target such diseases as diabetes, hypertension (heart disease), Alzheimer's disease, and cancer. Co-discovered by Hammock and Sarjeet Gill, now a UC Davis distinguished professor at UC Riverside, sEH is a key regulatory enzyme involved in the metabolism of fatty acids.
The work of the UC Davis-French team collaboration may have implications in major diseases of the circulatory system, including atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, stroke, and hypertension. Research shows that patients with diabetes, obesity, dyslipidemia, cancer, fibrosis, and sepsis have a significant increase in the risk and incidence of cardiovascular disease.
Bellien, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology who holds a doctorate in pharmacology from the Rouen University School of Pharmacy, heads a research group on endothelial protection within INSERM U1096. The endothelium is a thin membrane that lines the inside of the heart and blood vessels. Bellien and his team study the role of endothelial lipid mediators in the pathophysiology of cardiovascular diseases, and notably to study new approaches to treat vascular and valvular calcification. They have been collaborating with the UC Davis team since 2014.
UC Davis entomology professor Diane Ullman is off to France in November but it's not a dream vacation. It's a dream opportunity: a Fulbright-funded scholarship to research plant virus-insect interactions. She will be studying plant viruses and the insects that transmit them.
Her sabbatical will take her to Montpellier, France, to work with renowned vector biologists Stéphane Blanc and Marilyne Uzest at the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) on the Campus International de Baillarguet near Montpellier. The Biologie et Génetique des Interactions Plante-Parasite (UMR-BGPI, CIRAD-INRA-SupAgro) focuses on plant pathogens and their interactions with arthropod vector in agroecosystems. She will be studying plant viruses in the genus Orthotospovirus (family Tospoviridae). This family holds the only plant infecting members in the order Bunyaviriales. The other viruses in this order infect animals and humans and are transmitted primarily by mosquitoes and ticks.
"New evidence suggests the bunyavirus, Rift valley fever virus (an animal infecting member of the Bunyavirales), uses a multicomponent system in which individual virions do not co-package all segments and infection requires virion populations, a possibility with profound implications for virus evolution and antiviral target discovery,” said Ullman, an international authority on orthotospoviruses. “I will test the hypothesis that orthotospoviruses use multicomponent genome organization and segment copy regulation occurs in their hosts.”
The UC Davis professor has researched insect-transmitted plant pathogens for 37 years, targeting numerous insect vector species--from thrips, whiteflies, and leafhoppers to mealybugs--and the plant pathogens they transmit, including viruses, phytoplasma and bacteria.
“Sustainable management of insect-transmitted pathogens is a key concern for food production in France and the United States,” Ullman wrote in her Fulbright application. “Both countries grow many of the same crops and growers face similar challenges from insect-transmitted plant viruses. Current management strategies rely heavily on pesticides that may cause significant health and environmental concerns, including damage to bees and other pollinators, as shown with neonicotinoid pesticides. Clearly, better knowledge about these insect-transmitted viral systems…has potential to reduce pesticide use by providing novel and innovative technologies to manage tospoviruses and thrips in France and the United States.”
Ullman, former chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology and a former associate dean with the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, expects the project will build strong research relationships between UC Davis and Montpellier that will lead to grant applications for international research and scholarly exchange opportunities for scientists, students and post-doctoral scholars.