Rhizosphere 5: 2019 conference aims to the roots of food security

Posted on November 03, 2017

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Saskatoon has been selected to host an international scientific conference in July of 2019 that will bring together scientists, students and industry stakeholders to explore new ideas and opportunities for enhancing sustainable plant production and food and water security.

The conference, which is held every four years, focuses on the rhizosphere – the below-ground world of plant roots and their interactions with the environment – that is critical for future food and water security.

The 2019 Rhizosphere 5 conference will be led by the University of Saskatchewan (U of S), in collaboration with the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the U of S, and Tourism Saskatoon. Past conferences have been held in Germany, France, Australia, and The Netherlands.

With the theme "Shining Light on the World Beneath Our Feet," Rhizosphere 5 will showcase national and local capacity for innovation in sustainable agriculture and technologies for enhancing plant production. 

“Canadian researchers have been involved in root systems research for more than a century and the U of S has a long history of rhizosphere research, so it is particularly fitting that this conference will be held here,” said co-chair and U of S soil scientist Jim Germida.

Approximately 550 people attended Rhizosphere 4 held in Maastricht, The Netherlands, in 2015.

“The plant-root interface is inhabited by a unique population of micro-organisms that are important for plant growth and health, helping plants to acquire nutrients and water and break down contaminants,” said co-chair Bobbi Helgason, soil microbial ecologist at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Saskatoon and an adjunct professor in the U of S soil sciences department.

“It’s important to understand how these soil-microbial-plant interactions are affected by agricultural management practices.”   

Maurice Moloney, GIFS executive director, said “Rhizosphere 5 is closely aligned with GIFS' strategic program on roots, soils and rhizosphere. We look forward to welcoming the world's top researchers in this crucial area, to our city and to our campus.”

Brad Peters, director of International Sales for Tourism Saskatoon said, “It takes local committed and passionate ambassadors like researchers Germida and Helgason and all of their colleagues to be enthusiastic about bidding and hosting the conference. The impact of showcasing Saskatoon to more than 500 world leaders for five days will be significant for Saskatoon’s economy, as well as an opportunity to position our city as a leader in this important field internationally.”

For more information, please contact Jennifer Thoma, Media Relations Specialist at the University of Saskatchewan (jennifer.thoma@usask.ca or 306-966-1851) or Todd Brandt, President and CEO of Saskatoon Tourism (tbrandt@tourismsaskatoon.com or 306-931-7574).