SEB Prague 2020

Plant Biology Sessions

Challenges and opportunities in Cannabis research

Organised by:
  • Rainer Melzer (University College Dublin, Ireland)
  • Susanne Schillling (University College Dublin, Ireland)
  • Paul McCabe - (University College Dublin  - Ireland)
  • Christopher Grassa - (Harvard University,USA) - Genomic basis of Cannabis adaptation to human laws and economics
  • Djivan Prentout - (Laboratory of Biometry and Evolutionary Biology, Lyon, France) - Identification and characterization of the sex chromosomes of Cannabis sativa
  • Federica Pellati - (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy) - Chemistry, analysis and biological activity of non-psychoactive cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa L.
  • Luisa Trindade - Genetics of biobased crops: developing tools for hemp breeding 

Cannabis, or hemp, is an extraordinarily versatile plant – it has been used for millennia as a source of fibre, oil and for medicinal, spiritual and recreational purposes. However, because Cannabis has psychoactive effects, it had been widely banned throughout the last century. Evidence of its medicinal properties is leading to the relaxation of banning legislation in many of the major western economies; consequently Cannabis is the subject of renewed scientific attention.  This session, will bring together researchers working on Cannabis from a genetic, biochemical, ecological and pharmacological perspective and will discuss recent progress in Cannabis breeding and genomics.


Organised by: 
  • Rob Hancock (The James Hutton Institute, UK)
  • Nick Smirnoff (University of Exeter, UK)
  • John Lunn, Max Planck (Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany)
  • Mark Stitt (Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany) - Keeping Steady in a Fluctuating World
  • Uwe Sonnewald (University of Erlangen, Germany) - Making potato fit for climate change - Improving source-to-sink allocation of sucrose
  • Alison Smith (John Innes Centre, UK) - Many, diverse ways to supply sugar in the dark
  • Susanne von Caemmerer (Australian National University) - On the road to C4 rice: a perspective on the interplay between leaf anatomy and photosynthetic metabolism.
  • Howard Griffiths (University of Cambridge, UK) - Model approaches for CAM from lab to field
  • Boris Szurek (University of Montpellier, France) - Evolution of specialized metabolism in Solanaceae: Sticky stuff from the trichome tip cell
  • Asaf Aharoni (Weizmann Institute, Israel) - Rhizosphere Microbiome Mediates Systemic Root Metabolite Exudation by Root-to-Root Signaling
  • Christine Raines (University of Essex, UK)
  • Theresa Fitzpatrick (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Christine Beveridge (University of Queensland, Australia)
  • Rob Last (Michigan State University, USA)

This session focusses on five key areas

  1. Growth and Development
  2. Cell Biology
  3. Metabolism
  4. Plant-Environment Interactions
  5. Crop Molecular Genetics.

In the 70 years since the first volume of JXB in 1950, the global environment has seen significant changes, not least in atmospheric CO2 which has risen from 310 ppm to 410 ppm today, but also in a range of other variables where one of the key issues is climate instability. Plant metabolism underpins the plant phenotype and drives plant niche specialisation and the capacity to survive in variable environments. The session will address all aspects of plant primary and secondary metabolism including control of metabolism, signalling and environmental control of metabolism, metabolic modelling, metabolic engineering and the implications of metabolism for plant phenotype. A key underpinning theme will be the current and future impacts of environmental change on plant metabolism.

The chronobiology of plants 

Organised by:
  • Antony Dodd (John Innes Centre, UK) 
  • Alex Webb (Cambridge University, UK)
  • Norihito Nakamichi (Nagoya University, Japan)
  • Camila Caldana (Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Germany)
  • Joshua Gendron (Yale University, USA)
  • Jose Jimenez-Gomez (Institute Jean Pierre Bourgin, France)
  • Hiroshi Kudoh (Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University, Japan)
  • Runxuan Zhang (James Hutton Institute, Scotland)
  • Rossana Henriques (University College Cork, Ireland)
  • James Locke (Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK) 
Circadian rhythms have an incredibly pervasive impact upon the life of plants, including the crops that we depend upon for our survival. This session will span from molecular aspects of the generation of circadian rhythms to roles for circadian regulation in the adaptation of plants including crops to their fluctuating environments. A particular focus will be new advances that are shaping the field for the future, including crosstalk with other disciplines.

Retrograde signalling as a component of environmental sensing

Organised by:
  • Matthew Jones (University of Glasgow, UK)
  • Gabriela Toledo-Ortiz (Lancaster University, UK)
  • Elena Monte - Convergence of light and chloroplast retrograde signals
  • Matthew Terry (University of Southampton, UK) - The role of tetrapyrroles in retrograde signalling during chloroplast biogenesis
  • Prof Tatjana Kleine (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany)
  • Gabriela Toledo-Ortiz (Lancaster University, UK)

Plants perceive and respond to environmental change through a network of sensors and metabolic changes. Recent advances have revealed elegant mechanisms through which changes in metabolism stimulate signaling cascades that alter nuclear gene expression. This session will highlight the interplay between metabolism, retrograde signaling, and nuclear gene expression.

Plant Phenotyping

Organised by:
  • Roland Pieruschka (Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany)
  • Michela Janni (National Research Council of Italy, Italy)
  • Uli Schurr (Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany) - Networks, projects, infrastructure
  • Saoirse Tracy (University College Dublin, Ireland) - Plant abiotic stress
  • Stefan Paulus, (INRES, University of Bonn, Germany) - Biotic stress response
  • Michela Janni (CNR,  Italy) - Technology advancement for phenotyping
  • Vincent Vadez (ICRISAT, France) - Plant phenotyping for yield improvements
  • Francois Tardieu  (INRA) - Modelling in plant phenotyping
  • Emilie Millet (Wageingen University, The Netherlands) - Data management

Assessment of plant environment interaction by deep and high throughput phenotyping for crop improvement. This part may on on best case examples from projects such as EPPN/EPPN2020/EMPHASIS providing access to plant phenotyping facilities, e.g. EPPN enabled access to 21 facilities which resulted in 66 experiments and >50 publications, EPPN2020 has the capacity to enable 200 experiments in 31 facilities in a competitive process resulting in excellent science, the topics include:

- tolerance to abiotic stresses
- root phenotyping
- field phenotyping
- modelling

Additionally, the projects EPPN/EPPN2020/EMPHASIS have addressed essential topics complementing the assessment of plant traits that address data acquisition and their reuse:

- development and implementation of new technology and robotics in plant phenotyping and agronomy
- image acquisition and analysis
- data management to enable data interoperability

Life at the interface - plant membrane-protein dynamics and interactions during responses to environmental change

Organised by:
  • Piers Hemsley (University of Dundee, UK)
  • Angus Murphy (University of Maryland, USA)
  • Wendy Peer (University of Maryland, USA)
  • William Gray  (University of Minnesota, USA) - SAUR-PP2C.D Regulation of Plant Cell Expansion    
  • Claus Schwechheimer  (TUM Munich, Germany)
  • Abel Rosad (University of British Columbia, Canada)
  • Emmanuel Bayer (CNRS Bordeaux, France)
  • Yifang Tsay (Academia Sinica, Taiwan)
  • Caren Chang (University of Maryland, USA) - Signaling by a Non-Proteinogenic Amino Acid in Arabidopsis Ovules: Perception by Glutamate Receptor-like (GLR) Channels?
  • Ling Yu (Nanjing Agriculutural University, China)
  • Wendy Peer (University of Maryland, USA)

A broad, multi-disciplinary look at how plant membrane and protein-lipid complex structure and composition are organised, regulated and function, particularly during responses to environmental change.

Biogenic volatile organic compounds: mediators of inter-organismic interactions

Organised by:
  • Corina Vlot (Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen, Germany)
  • Maaria Rosenkranz (Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen, Germany)
  • Dorothea Tholl (Virginia Tech, USA)
  • Birgit Piechulla (University of Rostock, Germany)
  • Paolina Garbeva (Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Netherlands)
  • Sybille Unsicker (Max Planck Institute, Germany)
  • Michele Perazzolli (University of Trento, Italy)
  • Matthias Erb (University of Bern, Switzerland)

The session will include research on plant-plant, plant-microbe, and plant-insect interactions with a particular focus on how these interactions are governed by volatiles. It has been long known that plant-insect interactions are regulated by plant volatiles. This session will extend on this foundation and highlight how plant-derived and in particular also microbe-derived volatiles influence plant-microbe as well as tritrophic microbe-plant-microbe and microbe-plant-insect interactions.   




  • Oliver Tills (Plymouth University, UK)
  • Manuela Truebano Garcia (Plymouth University, UK) 
  • Anne Plessis 
  • Melody Clark (British Antarctic Survey, UK) - Life in the slow lane   
  • Dietmar Kultz (UC Davis, USA) - Quantitative proteomics for holistic network analyses of environmental effects on complex organisms
  • Francesco Falciani (Institute of Integrative Biology,UK) - Multilevel functional genomics data integration as a tool for understanding eco-physiology   
  • Nicholas Smirnoff, Biosciences (University of Exeter, UK) - Using metabolomics to investigate plant stress responses.

This session is focussed on the application of global omic approaches and their integration to understand ecophysiology. We will encourage the integration of research using plant and animal models. The session will appeal to members using a diverse range of methodological and technological approaches, from molecular to whole organism physiology. The unifying principle of the session will be a focus on the application of omic- approaches to understanding key physiological mechanisms and this will encompass a broad range of taxa. Research using -omics datasets present unique challenges relating to big data, analytical approaches and study design. The session will draw on the breadth of experience and research interests within the society and bring together researchers using large datasets, from molecular (genomics) to organismal (phenomics). 

Related sessions:

Animal biology sessions
Cell biology sessions