Zelmari Coetzee attended the 10th International Symposium on Grapevine Physiology and Biotechnology in Verona, Italy, from the 13th until the 18th of June 2016 and visited 4 research organisations in Italy and Portugal. Upon receiving travel grants from the ARC-TC IWP as well as the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre (NWGIC), Zelmari travelled to Verona to attend the 10th International Symposium on Grapevine Physiology and Biotechnology. She presented her current research in a poster, titled ‘Modifying soil potassium content and decreasing plant net carbon assimilation alter the sugar-potassium relationship in the grape berry’ for which she received a best poster award in the category ‘Soil, water relations and mineral nutrition’. She said that the conference presented excellent networking opportunities and occasions to pick the brains of experts in her field of study.
In addition to attending the conference in Verona, Zelmari also met with researchers at four research institutes. She was invited by Florian Haas to visit the Laimburg research institute in Ora, Italy where she presented her research in a combined seminar with the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. This wine region is prone to high potassium in their musts so they are interested in understanding the accumulation mechanisms of potassium in grape berries. The second visit included the La Fondazione Edmund Mach in San Michele all’Adige where she met with Diollio Porro, a nutrition expert who introduced the use of the SPAD colorimeter as an indicator of leaf chlorophyll content and nutrition status in the grapevine. Here, she also had an opportunity to meet with Dr Roberto Zorer who works in plant physiology and eco-physiology, viticulture and GIS modelling.
Subsequently, she travelled to Portugal to meet with Antonio Graça from the Associação Portuguesa para a Diversidade da Videira (PORVID). This association is working on the preservation of Portuguese grape varieties and has a large database on the clonal variation within these varieties, which is inclusive of data on the potassium concentration and pH of the juice at harvest. While in Portugal, Zelmari took the opportunity to travel to Porto to meet with Antonio César Silva Ferreira at the Escola Superior Biotecnologia Universidade Catolica Portuguesa and discuss research relating to the grape berry cell death. The trip was an amazing experience for Zelmari and provided her with plenty of motivation for the rest of her PhD project back at Charles Sturt University in Australia.