So.. news from Jerusalem!!
Well, first impression was....HEAT...! It is summer, but it is also
HOT in J'salem this time of year.
Second was - no Americans! Why? Scared off by politics? Or by cost?
A pity if so - we routinely have to travel further than that (what a
pleasure - only 8 hours from Johannesburg direct!!) to ANY
international meeting, let alone the premier virological event on the
Third was - plants and their viruses are BIG news. And the most
exciting thing for me was the wonderfully varied and potentially
confusing explanations of how it is that transgenic plants resist
virus infections. Several directly contradictory explanations were
put forward, all backed by evidence, and all probably equally true
(just in different circumstances).
I was also impressed by Jack Johnson's plenary talk on structure, in
which he unveiled possible mechanisms for non-enveloped RNA viruses to
get into animal cells - and with Jean-Yves Sgro's beautiful depictions
of virus structure (which I took home with me [with permission]) which
decorated the ICTV board. Another high-impact talk was the discovery
of a co-factor for HIV infection of cells (EA Berger). Perhaps the
most impressive, tho, was one by Don Nuss on chestnut blight fungus
hypovirulence factor: an RNA virus of fungi that he and his lab have
explored the biology of very elegantly indeed. Paul Ahlquist was as
impressive as usual, with the news that an insect virus can replicate
in yeast - Claude Fauquet was less so, with a plenary on gemini- and
potyviruses that signally failed to credit anyone else's contributions
to either groups' taxonomy or evolution. Whatever, plant interests
were well served.
Posters were legion; two of the most impressive were one with a 40 cm
long picture of a mosquito larva glowing green with green fluorescent
protein, and the one detailing a description of a filovirus-like
particle found in leafhoppers of all things...maybe Ebola is a plant /
insect virus after all (Thorben Lundsgaard)!!!
All in all, well organised, impressive, for all that only (!!) 1700
people were there. Worth attending. And the local food (tho not
prices) was sublime. Heard there was a Hasid-spotters guide to
identification of subgroupings but couldn't find one. Bought
wonderful earrings for wife. Got potted with a bunch (well, they work
on banana viruses after all) of Bruces...sorry, read "Australians".
Had a good time, socially and academically. Am still recovering.
Ed Rybicki, PhD
Dept Microbiology | ed at molbiol.uct.ac.za
University of Cape Town | phone: x27-21-650-3265
Private Bag, Rondebosch | fax: x27-21-650 4023
7700, South Africa |
WWW URL: http://www.uct.ac.za/microbiology/ed.html
"And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you"