Branching out

18 March 2016 - By: Lisa Martin & Sarah Jose

Branching Out

GPC delegates

By Lisa Martin & Sarah Jose, Global Plant Council

The latter half of 2015 was a busy time for the Global Plant Council (GPC) as we prepared ourselves not only for our Annual General Meeting (AGM), but also for our Symposium on Stress Resilience, held in collaboration with the Society for Experimental Biology (SEB). The meetings were held in October, either side of the International Plant Molecular Biology conference, in the town of Foz do Iguaçu on the Brazilian side of the famous Iguassu Falls. 

The AGM brought together representatives from many of the GPC’s Member Organisations to discuss the progress made on the GPC initiatives in the past year. As outgoing Chair, Professor Wilhelm Gruissem said in his opening remarks: “We have made a lot of progress and accomplished many things, but we still have much work to do”. 


The GPC has played an important role in the development of Diversity Seek (DivSeek), a multi-stakeholder collaborative initiative that aims to ‘unlock the potential of crop diversity stored in genebanks around the world’. During 2015, over 50 partners came together to officially launch this initiative and bring together large-scale genotyping and phenotyping projects, computational and data standards projects. Our aim is to establish DivSeek as a common umbrella to connect and promote interactions between these activities and establish common state-of-the-art techniques for data collection, integration and sharing. This will improve the efficiency of each project by eliminating redundancy and increasing the availability of data to researchers around the world.

We have also been working with the American Society of Plant Biologists to develop ‘Plantae’, a digital platform that will be both an online resource hub for plant science, as well as a place where plant scientists can network, promote their research, discuss and interact. The website is currently in beta-testing mode with a full release due in 2016, but if you want to have a look around, you can sign up to be a beta-tester and give us your feedback at

Social media

At the AGM we also discussed our social media activities, which have dramatically increased awareness of the GPC around the world. Our New Media Fellows Amelia Frizell-Armitage from the John Innes Centre, and Sarah Jose from the University of Bristol, have done a stellar job in increasing our followings on Twitter (in English, and in Spanish, with a little help from volunteer Juan-Diego Santillana Ortiz), Facebook, Scoop.It, and the GPC blog. If you’re not already following us or ‘liking’ us, please do! 

Educational resources

We also teamed up with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s Plant Science Tool for Research-Engaged Education (TREE), an online teaching tool providing everyone with inspirational educational resources from the research community; and the popular Teaching Tools in Plant Biology, run by the ASPB. Thanks to our international members, the GPC has begun to translate these resources into other languages to make them more accessible to lecturers, teachers and students around the world.

And finally…

Lastly, we thanked our outgoing Executive Board for all their hard work over the last three years, and we welcomed the newly elected one. Barry Pogson (Australian Society of Plant Scientists) will be our new Chair, Vice-Chair is Ariel Orellana (Chile’s National Network of Plant Biologists), the Treasurer is Vicky Buchanan-Wollaston (SEB), and Carl Douglas (Canadian Society of Plant Biologists) and Yusuke Saijo (Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists) are Board Members. 

With this new team in place, including our new(ish) President, Professor Bill Davies from Lancaster University, whom we had welcomed earlier last year, we look forward to lots more exciting activities in the coming year to help develop plant science for global challenges.
Category: Plant Biology

Lisa Martin & Sarah Jose

Lisa Martin is a freelance science writer and editor and the part-time Outreach & Communications Manager for the Global Plant Council, a non-profit coalition of plant, crop, agriculture and environmental scientists around the world that seeks to develop plant science for global challenges. She has a degree in Biological Sciences, and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Science Education, both from the University of Warwick, UK. 

Sarah Jose is a PhD student at the University of Bristol, investigating the link between wax biosynthesis and stomatal development. Alongside her studies, Sarah is the New Media Fellow for the Global Plant Council, running their blog and promoting the latest plant science research.

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