Highlights of the 13th SolGenomics Conference 2016

By Parul Gupta and Sushma Naithani

The 13th SolGenomics Conference was held at UC Davis on September 12-16, 2016. Researchers working on Solanaceae (nightshade) crops from all over the world convened to discuss and review the recent advancement in the research and how it can be employed for developing improved cultivars. SGN workshops introduced several resources, such as Breeders Toolbox,  VIGS Tool and an updated SL2.5 VCF data for tomato genome projects with corrected reference and variant alleles. In this meeting, each session was co-chaired by young researchers (masters and PhD scholars) to encourage them.  Dr. Parul Gupta found this meeting as an excellent platform to interact and learn about the Solanaceae research community. She especially liked a talk by Dr. Subha Damodharan (Invited Speaker from Volcani Center, Israel) on "the regulatory role of miR160 in auxin-mediated vegetative and reproductive development of tomato" focused on the use of miR160 target mimic strategy to show miR160-based regulatory mechanism of ovary patterning, floral organ abscission, and lamina outgrowth in leaf. 

This was an excellent platform to present Gramene's  pathway portal Plant Reacome, a freely available resource for mining metabolites, enzymes, pathways and genes, that allows analysis of user-selected / generated Omics data within the cellular-level pathway network. Plant Reactome contains metabolic, signaling, regulatory and developmental pathways from  63 plant species, including important Solanaceae crops, namely potato, tomato, and pepper. It provides users options to compare pathway comparisons across species as well as to upload and analyze their own Omics data. Dr. Parul Gupta, a Postdoctoral Associate from Oregon State University  (in the laboratory of Dr. Pankaj Jaiswal) working on the curation of pathways in plant reactome database interacted with the several researchers during this meeting. 

Take home lessons from this meeting for Plant reactome group are:

  • Gramene users discovered the many functionalities associated with the Plant Reactome portal and appreciated its ability to support the data analysis.
  • Tomato researchers showed interest in exploring pathways that play role in fruit flavor, quality, color and ripening.
  • Potato breeders and researchers were looking for pathways related to  plant-microbe interaction and disease resistance/ susceptibility. 

With these great feedback from Solanaceae user group, and learning from the community, plant reactome curation team is happy to take initiative on the curation of a few pathways such as,

  • phytoalexins biosynthesis pathway
  • plant-microbe interactions pathway.
  • small RNA regulated steps in Plant Reactome pathways, whereever the information is publicly available.

On the sidelines, during the field trip, Parul Gupta made new friends, and visited commercial processor (Morning Star Tomato Processing Facility) in the City of Williams, California, which is the most modern and one of the largest processors of tomato products such as sauces, soups, and canned products. Even tasted tomato flavored sweet pepper that was yum…!