Lack of a genetic transformation system has hindered plant-parasitic nematology for some time. Recently, Plant Sciences independent investigator Dr Sebastian Eves-van den Akker brought the greatest minds in the field together to discuss this problem, after being awarded a BBSRC international workshop grant. The workshop was held in parallel with the European Society of Nematologists conference in Braga, Portugal, and comprised two days of stimulating and challenging discussions. In light of recent technological advances (CRISPR-CAS9), coupled with a renewed vigour within this recently formed consortium, the future looks bright for transformation of plant-parasitic nematodes.
Earlier this year, Dr. Eves-van den Akker was a co-recipient of the Peter Massalski Prize along with Dr. Katie Baker, a former PhD student in Plant Sciences. The Massalski Prize is awarded biennially to the person under 36-years-old, who is considered to have done the most meritorious research whilst based at the James Hutton Institute. It was established through the generosity of Professor and the late Mrs T B Massalski, in memory of their son, Dr Peter R Massalski, who was a member of staff at of the former Scottish Crop Research Institute at Invergowrie at the time of his death. Dr. Eves-van den Akker is also the youngest ever scientist to have been awarded a BBSRC fellowship. His research focuses on understanding the mechanisms of plant-pathogen interaction, and in particular the ‘molecular tools’ pathogens use to manipulate plants.