SEB Florence 2018 - Programme


Download the full Annual Meeting programme

The following Plant Biology sessions will take place at SEB Florence 2018.

Plant and Animal Biology

Plant and Cell Biology

Plant Biology

Plant and Animal Biology

Environmental impact on epigenetic memory

Sponsored by:
The Plant Journal and Queen Mary University of London - Life Sciences Institute

Date: 5 July 2018

Who should submit:

Researchers with interest in the following areas: Environmental signals, gene regulatory networks, growth and development, metabolism, biotechnology


Jose Gutierrez-Marcos (University of Warwick, UK)
Vardhman Rakyan (Blizard Institute, UK)

  • Eric Miska (University of Cambridge, UK) - Non-coding RNAs and epigenetic memory in worms
  • Daniel Zilberman (John Innes Centre, UK) - Stable epigenetic inheritance of DNA methylation through pathway integration
  • Anne Ferguson-Smith (University of Cambridge, UK) - Variable silencing of the repeat genome- implications for non-genetic inheritance
  • Anita Ost (Linköping University, Sweden) - Small RNAs transmit big epigenetic message- Intergenerational reprogramming of metabolism
  • Paul Hurd (Queen Mary University of London, UK) - Epigenetic determination of social insect castes

It is now recognised that the activity of enzymes that regulate the structure and configuration of chromatin is influenced by changes in the environment.  Such changes precipitate a cascade of transcriptional changes , which in some cases can persist through mitosis to subsequence cell generations thus constituting a heritable epigenetic change. Moreover, these environment-ditected epigenetic changes can be transmitted to offspring and contribute to adaptive responses, thus potentially influence evolution. This session will discuss how environmental cues direct epigenetic changes, how these changes are inherited and define their significance in adaptation and evolution.  

Plant and Cell Biology

General cell and plant biology (poster session only)

Poster session dates: 4 and 5 July 2018

The general cell and plant biology session invites posters on all the aspects of plant and cell biology that are not catered for in the specific section sessions. As such, the session is an important element of the scientific programme, with high-quality presentations on a wide spectrum of subjects.

The general poster sessions will take place on 4 and 5 July 2018 and accepted posters will be grouped into subject areas based on the special interest groups of the Plant and Cell Sections. We particularly encourage submissions from PhD students and early career scientists.

Plant Biology

Climate change impact on urban and natural forests

Sponsored by: Conservation Physiology

Date: 3 July 2018

Who should submit:

Researchers with interest in the following areas: Photosynthesis, plant physiology, secondary metabolism, plant hydraulics, plant physiological ecology, chlorophyll fluorescence, plant water relations, biomechanics, urban forestry, terpenes, volatile organic compounds 


Cecilia Brunetti (National Research Council of Italy, Italy)
Antonella Gori (University of Florence, Italy)

  • Andrea Nardini (University of Trieste, Italy) - Xylem embolism and hydraulic failure in trees: the road to death under drought
  • Francesco Loreto (CNR, Italy) - Isoprenoids are prominent components of the armament defending urban and natural forest plants against stresses
  • Tim Brodribb (University of Tasmania, Australia) - Stomata and xylem: coordinate or die
  • Violeta Velikova (Institute of Plant Physiology and Genetics, Bulgaria) - Plant performance in future climate. What we can learn from native and transgenic tree species

Effects of climate change are becoming evident on forests and plants in urban environment. One of the most pronounced effects may be a decline in resistance to chronic stress and resilience to acute constrains. The capacity of plants in natural and urban forests to respond, to adapt and persist to climate change remains largely unknown. The meeting will address recent advances in understanding physiological and biochemical traits involved in plant resistant to environmental pressures caused by climate change and highlight insights emerging from recent studies on plant vulnerability in different environments (urban context and natural ecosystems), using a translational approach.

Related sessions:

Morphogenesis in non-flowering plants

Sponsored by: Journal of Experimental Botany

Dates: 4 July 2018

Who should submit:

Researchers with interest in the following areas: Non-flowering plants, algae, bryophytes (moss), ferns, marchantia, gymnosperms, lifecycles, morphogenesis, evolution, development


John Bothwell (Durham University, UK)
Juliet Coates (University of Birmingham, UK)

  • Ralf Reski (University of Freiburg, Germany) - Morphogenesis in moss
  • Liam Dolan (University of Oxford, UK) - Using Marchantia genetics to understand the evolution of land plant rooting systems
  • Dianne Edwards (Cardiff University, UK) - Morphogenesis in early land plants: the beginnings
  • Thomas Wichard (Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany) - Bacteria-induced morphogenesis in macroalgae: The sea lettuce Ulva only gets into shape with the right bacteria
  • Marta Mariotti Lippi (University of Florence, Italy) - Cupressus from a palynological point of view

The bulk of plant science research over the past quarter-century has focussed on the flowering plants and, of course, on Arabidopsis.  One consequence of the enormous technical and conceptual advances made in the angiosperms is that we are now well-placed to look behind them, and to peer deeper into the evolution of form and function in the non-flowering plants (e.g. Pires & Dolan, 2012, Phil Trans R Soc B, 367: 508-518). Our session will cover four themes:

  1. History and theory of morphogenesis
    Our first talks will cover the forms that have been tried and tested in the fossil record to highlight recurring principles that underlie multicellular morphogenesis.
  2. Algae
    The extreme environmental plasticity of green algal morphogenesis will be discussed in the context of environmental drivers and symbiont-dependent development.
  3. Bryophytes and Marchantiophytes
    Modern molecular and cell physiological approaches will be discussed in studying development in the moss, Physcomitrella, and the evolution of patterning in Marchantia.
  4. Tracheophytes
    Finally, we will finish by moving into the tracheophytes. The Tuscan landscape around Florence is dominated by three plants: vines, olives, and cypress. Of these, the cypress is non-flowering, and we end by considering morphogenesis in this most Italian of species.

Plant temperature responses: shaping development and enhancing survival?

Sponsored by:
New Phytologist Trust

Dates: 4 and 5 July 2018

Who should submit:

Researchers with interest in the following areas: Plant development, plant environmental adaptation, plant stress biology, plant responses to climate change, plant modelling, thermobiology


Heather Knight (Durham University, UK)
Keara Franklin (University of Bristol, UK)

  • Steve Penfield (John Innes Centre, UK) - Maternal temperature signalling and the control of seed properties
  • Caroline Delker (Halle University, Germany) - Genetic dissection of plant thermomorphogenesis
  • Julio Salinas (CSIC, Spain) - New molecular mechanisms regulating the plant response to low temperature
  • Jun-Li Liu (Durham University, UK) - Using mathematical modelling to establish the link between temperature, calcium signatures and gene expression in plant cells
  • Dirk Hincha (Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany) - Cold acclimation, deacclimation and memory in Arabidopsis
  • Isabel Bäurle (University of Potsdam, Germany) - Chromatin regulation of heat stress memory in Arabidopsis

The New Phytologist Trust is sponsoring a networking event which is aimed at early career scientists working on the response of plants to temperature changes. PhD students and early career postdocs are encouraged to submit abstracts and present their work in this scientific session, followed by a networking event afterwards. There will also be a prize awarded for the best early career scientist presentation at the end of the session.

Please direct all enquiries to either Heather Knight,, or Kerry Franklin,

This session aims to bring together plant biologists working on all aspects of plant responses to temperature. This will include molecular biologists interested in the mechanisms of gene regulation, stress biologists studying plant adaptation to extreme temperatures and those interested in how plant development is shaped by variations in temperature. We expect the session to stimulate discussion between those working on low and high temperature as well as interactions between scientists working on early signalling events and those looking at longer term adaptive responses. We also welcome contributions from those modelling the response of plants to temperature change.

Related sessions:

From Genome to Genomes

Dates: 3 July 2018

Who should submit:

Researchers with interest in the following areas: Genetic, population genetics, genomics, bioinformatics


Anthony Hall (Earlham Institute, UK)
Federica Di Palma (Earlham Institute, UK)
Mary O'Connell (University of Leeds, UK)
Rob Davey (Earlham Institute, UK)

  • Klaus Mayer (Helmholtz Zentrum München, Germany) 
  • Mary O’Connell (University of Leeds, UK) - On the malleability of genomes
  • Magnus Nordborg (Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology, Austria)
  • Paul Kearsey (EMBL-EBI, UK) - Ensembl Plants: An Infrastructure for Comparative and Population Genomics
  • Bernardo Clavijo (Earlham Institute, UK) - Assembling complex genomes
  • Neil Hall (Earlham Institute, UK) - The Earth BioGenome project, sequencing life

Having a reference quality genome for your favourite experimental organism is likely to be common place by 2018. Over the last decade, a revolution in sequencing technology and parallel innovations in computational infrastructure and workflow/algorithm developments, means that a high quality reference genome, even for large complex genomes, is an achievable goal. Over the next few years we are likely to see function and annotation being added to our reference genomes, giving scientists an insight into how a genome works, how whole sets of genes are regulated and how genomes can rapidly adapt to change. Alongside these functional insights, we will see a move from analysing not just a genome, but multiple genomes, giving us a picture of genome scale genetic diversity within populations, and through comparative genomics, between species. This should give us an understanding of genome evolution and identify important genes underlying adaptation and domestication. Finally, datasets generated are going to require new methods of sharing data, infrastructure and workflows, defining a new frontier for computational biology. This session aims to give you an insight into the genomics revolution. The session will be made up of three workshops focusing on genome complexity and function, population genomics and the tools and resources that underpin modern genomics.

Related sessions:

Enhancing plant photosynthesis with biophysical CO2 concentrating mechanisms

Date: 6 July 2018

Who should submit:

Researchers with interest in the following areas: Eukaryotic and prokaryotic CO2 concentrating mechanisms (CCMs), algal and plant photosynthesis, hornwort CCMs, diatom CCMs, Rubisco, plant synthetic engineering, systems biology in algae


Luke Mackinder (University of York, UK)
Alistair McCormick (University of Edinburgh, UK)

  • Dean Price (Australian National University, Australia) - Strategies and progress on fitting parts of cyanobacterial CO2 concentrating mechanisms into C3 chloroplasts
  • Martin Jonikas (Princeton University, USA) - Structure and biogenesis of the eukaryotic CO2-concentrating organelle, the pyrenoid
  • Cheryl Kerfeld (UC Berkeley and Michigan State University, USA) - The carboxysome as a metabolic module for engineering CO2 fixation
  • Stefan Timm (University of Rostock, Germany) - How can photorespiration regulate photosynthetic carbon assimilation?

    Biophysical CCMs are found in eukaryotic algae, cyanobacteria and hornworts. They enhance photosynthesis by concentrating CO2 around the principal carbon fixing enzyme, Rubisco. Biophysical CCMs drive photosynthesis in algae that contribute to ~50% of global carbon-fixation. Recently, the transfer of a CCM into a crop plants has been highlighted as a potential approach to increase crop yields. 
Related sessions:

Plant biotechnology for health and nutrition

Dates: 3 and 4 July 2018

Who should submit:

Researchers with interest in the following areas: Applied plant biology, biotechnology, use of plants for human health/nutrition, medicinal plants, molecular biology, genetic engineering, genome modification, plant genomes


Henry Daniell (University of Pennsylvania, USA)

  • Cathie Martin (John Innes Centre, UK) - Enhancing nutrition for human health through metabolic engineering
  • Paul Christou (University of Ileida, Spain) - Biofortification of crops with nutrients - Nutritional enhancement of food and feed for animal and human health
  • Johnathan Napier (Rothamsted Research, UK) - Tailoring seed oil composition in the real world
  • Henry Daniell (University of Pennsylvania, USA) - Affordable vaccines and biopharmaceuticals made in plant chloroplasts
  • George Lomonossoff (John Innes Centre, UK) - Transient expression of virus-like particles for use in biomedicine and bionanotechology
  • Shashi Kumar (International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, India) - Metabolic engineering and synthetic biology for production of antimalarial drug artemisinin in plants
  • Julian Ma (St George's, University of London, UK)

Biopharmaceuticals (protein drugs) are unaffordable for a large majority of the global population. Their annual cost (>$150 billion) exceeds GDP of >75% of countries and one-third of the global population earn <$2 per day. In order to reduce production, storage and delivery costs, they are now made in plant cells. The first plant made biopharmaceutical (glucocerebrosidase) made in carrot cells is now a FDA approved drug, marketed by Pfizer. However, this is still very expensive because protein drugs should be purified (>99%) and injected. Therefore, several biopharmaceuticals bioencapsulated in plant cells are evaluated for oral delivery in order to eliminate prohibitive costs associated with purification, cold storage, transportation, sterile injections and short shelf-life.  Vaccines against infectious diseases are also made using plant viral systems and evaluated by industries (like Medicago). Synthetic biology and metabolic engineering approaches are also explored to produce antimalarial drugs like artemisinin. Plants have also been improved to enhance human and animal nutrition by increasing pigments and vitamins like purple corn or tomatoes with anticancer properties. In addition, novel plant lines have been created with biofortification of iron, zinc and several other essential nutrients. This session will bring together experts and researchers from animal, plant and cell biology in academia and industry to share recent developments in this field to explore new tools and concepts in genomics, synthetic biology and metabolic engineering.

Related sessions:

Shaping root architecture - from nutrient sensing and tropisms to systemic signals and decision making

Sponsored by: Plant, Cell & Environment

Dates: 5 and 6 July 2018

Who should submit:

Researchers with interest in the following areas: root architecture, root hair growth, development, transport, signalling


Stefan Kepinski (University of Leeds, UK)
Julia Davis (University of Cambridge, UK)

  • Anna Amtmann (University of Glasgow, UK)
  • José Dinneny (Carnegie Institution for Science, USA)
  • Yoshikatsu Matsubayashi (Nagoya University, Japan) - Root-to-shoot and shoot-to-root long-distance mobile peptides mediate systemic regulation of nitrogen acquisition
  • Kirsten ten Tusscher (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) - Signal integration and decision making: Computing in plants
  • Alex Costa (University of Milan, Italy) - Light sheet fluorescence microscopy for calcium dynamics in root and root hair cells of Arabidopsis thaliana
  • Malcolm Bennett (University of Nottingham, UK)
  • Miriam Gifford (University of Warwick, UK)
  • Hagai Shemesh (Tel-Hai Academic College, Israel) - Beyond average: complex behavior of plant roots

The aim of this session is to provide a holistic overview of the developmental and environmental factors that shape root architecture. These range from events at the local scale, such as lateral root and root hair growth in response to nutrient deficit, hydropatterning, hydrotropism, halotropism, and gravitropic setpoint angle control, to systemic, whole-plant responses to spatial variation in nutrient availability. The potential complexity of these sometimes incompatible responses to different environmental cues is huge and the opportunity to consider them together, across a day and a half in Florence, will make for an exciting and illuminating session.

Travel grants funded by Plant, Cell & Environment available for early career researchers participating in this session. Contact for details.