Liana Headshot 1
Deputy Section Chair: Liana Acevedo-Siaca (Michigan State University)

Section Chair: Professor Stefan Kepinski (University of Leeds)

The Plant Section promotes the development and communication of research in plant biology. Our journals encourage rapid publication of high-quality research and every year the SEB organises international conferences covering diverse areas of modern plant science.

The Plant Section has a number of special interest groups covering different areas of animal biology that you are welcome to join. These interest groups help to organise sessions at our Annual Conference and our Symposia. Each interest group is headed by a group convenor, and the group convenors make up the SEB Plant Section Committee.

Below is the list of plant biology interest groups, use the button below to log in to the members' area and join a group:



Plant biology interest groups

Interaction of Plants with other Organisms Group

Convenor: Corina Vlot (Helmholtz Zentrum München)

The Interaction of plants with other organisms Group brings together researchers working on all aspects of plant interactions with other organisms. This includes parasitic, pathogenic and beneficial interactions with a wide range of organisms including viruses, bacteria, fungi, oomycetes, nematodes and insects. We are keen to involve researchers from different disciplines working on these areas at different scales, for example, molecular to population level,  and have strong links to the Integrative Plant Biology Group of the SEB.

Over the past several years, reciprocal influences between plants and their associated microbes (the ‘microbiome’) have begun to be unravelled. Plant defence responses are sensitive to pathogens, but also to beneficial organisms of the microbiome. Vice versa, the composition of the microbiome changes in response to plant defence reactions, potentially leading to a very dynamic ‘evolution’ of the holobiont plant in interaction with its microbiome.

In the coming years, we expect many more exciting data from this rapidly evolving field and look forward to integration of plant-microbiome interactions and responses of the holobiont to various biotic and abiotic influences. We are able to support research into plant biotic interactions through funding or part-funding focused meetings and sessions at the SEB Annual Conference. We would particularly like to involve early career scientists and encourage proposals for exciting meeting topics.

Plant Transport Group

Convenor: Julia Davies (University of Cambridge)

The Plant Transport Group covers all aspects of membrane transport, from detailed characterisation of individual transporters to long-distance transport in plants and the many roles of transmembrane transport in plant physiology.

As well as contributing sessions to the Annual Conference, we run smaller, focused satellite meetings and are particularly keen to encourage young and early career scientists to present their work. 

The Plant Transport Group covers all aspects of membrane transport, from detailed characterisation of individual transporters to long-distance transport in plants and the many roles of transmembrane transport in plant physiology.

As well as contributing sessions to the Annual Conference, we run smaller, focused satellite meetings and are particularly keen to encourage young and early career scientists to present their work. 

Abiotic Stress and Climate Change Group

Group Convenor: Matthew Gilliham (University of Adelaide, Australia)

This special interest group focus is the molecular and physiological mechanisms of model and crop plant abiotic stress perception and tolerance, the development and implementation of technologies underpinning precise phenotyping and monitoring of environmental conditions, and on the agronomic practices that improve plant stress tolerance.

The group’s ultimate intention is to foster a multidisciplinary approach that will lead to tackling crop stress tolerance encompassing disciplines beyond plant sciences, and to be a forum for open and informed discussion about approaches that lead to this aim -  from breakthrough discoveries, experimental design, traits that have relevance in the field, and management options. Therefore interests of this group span from blue sky fundamental research to targeted solutions in the field.

Abiotic stress – non-living environmental factors that have the potential to negatively impact plant growth – routinely reduce the yield of all the major crops, and can lead to considerable yield losses in any given season if a stress or combination of stresses is severe enough. Whilst the mechanisms of plant stress perception and tolerance are active areas of research there have been limited examples of research translation into the field to improve crop stress tolerance.

Furthermore, crop-breeding programs have traditionally not overtly bred for improving abiotic stress tolerance, focusing primarily on yield improvement. Abiotic stress episodes are increasing in the face of climatic change.

This all combined is exacerbating the challenge of future food security, especially considering that the rate of yield improvement currently lags behind the targets set for producing enough food to feed the predicted global population of 2050. There is a pressing need for accelerated research translation including multidisciplinary approaches embracing disciplines beyond plant and soil sciences.

Crop Molecular Genetics

Convenor: Alison Bentley  (NIAB)

The Crop Molecular Genetics Group focuses on pure and applied research relating to crop and associated biotechnological applications. The group has synergies with other interest groups but is defined by specific questions, challenges and opportunities that arise from working in crops.

We are keen to encourage young scientists within this interest group, especially in light of the need of more researchers being comfortable working in both crops and model systems.

We aim to promote stronger links between groups and to provide training to facilitate work across species and act as a point of contact for SEB members keen to engage in more crop-oriented research. We are able to support funding or part-funding of focused meetings and sessions at the SEB Annual Conference centered on the theme of crop molecular genetics.

Photosynthesis and Metabolism Group

Co-convenors: Andrew Leakey (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Peter Nixon (Imperial College London)

The Photosynthesis and Metabolism Group focuses on improving our basic understanding of photosynthesis and plant metabolic networks, but also on manipulating these processes to improve crops for the future.

All aspects of photosynthesis and plant metabolism are relevant to the group, from defining the make-up of a complex network, to determining the role of specific pathways and understanding their co-ordination and regulation.

We particularly encourage the work of young PhD and post-doctoral scientists.

Plant Development Group

Convenor: Stefan Kepinski

The Plant Development Interest Group covers all areas of plant development from germination through to senescence.

It includes development studied at the molecular, cellular, tissue and whole plant levels as well as organelle development.

Since plant development encompasses almost all aspects of plant biology and is strongly influenced by the environment, this interest group fulfils a central role in plant biology research.

Plant Environmental Physiology Group

Convenor: Amanda Cavanagh (University of Illinois)

The Plant Environmental Physiology Group (PEPG) is a special interest group spanning both the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) and the British Ecological Society  (BES).

Plant environmental physiology is the study of short-term acclimation and long-term adaptation of plants to changing environmental conditions.

Our traditional goal has been to integrate leaf and plant-level responses to biotic and abiotic stress under field and laboratory conditions. Increasingly, our focus has been either to set molecular physiology in an ecological context or to provide a basis for scaling root and shoot level responses to canopy, ecosystem and region in the context of climate change, whether for crops or natural vegetation. Our remit is to:

advance and promote the science and practice of plant environmental physiology

integrate the plant environmental physiology community and research opportunities within and outside the BES and SEB

support, train and liaise with young plant environmental physiologists.

The group annually runs an informal symposium for early career scientists and every two years organises a training course in field techniques aimed at post-docs and postgrads in plant environmental physiology.

The PEPG is an excellent forum for meeting people working in similar fields and for socialising as well as general networking. Members interested in holding conferences, meetings, workshops or field meetings can apply through the Group Secretary for BES financial assistance and support for student attendance.

Plant Biotechnology and Synthetic Biology Group

Convenor: Claire Halpin (University of Dundee)


This special interest group provides a forum for researchers interested in any aspect of plant biotechnology including applications in model species, algae, crops and trees.

It will be of interest to those working on the development of techniques and technologies to enable the manipulation of plants (e.g. gene editing, synthetic biology) as well as to those pursing specific applications of plant biotechnology (e.g. to produce biofuels, biomaterials, biofortified food, therapeutics, high value chemicals, environmental sensors, phytoremediation, more resilient lower input crops etc).

The special interest group supports and encourages applications for plant biotechnology-focussed sessions at the SEB Annual Conference and satellite meetings

You can contact claire at: [email protected]


Members are welcome to submit proposals for sessions at the SEB Annual Conference and for symposia and satellite meetings.

Find out more about how you can submit proposals here.