From the 6th until the 8th of May, the Cosmocaixa Museum in Barcelona hosted the international conference At the Forefront of Plant Research, which was promoted and organized by CRAG. This conference followed on the footsteps of previous meetings organized by CRAG (From model systems to crops: challenges for a new era in plan biology; Barcelona 2014) and VIB (At the forefront of plant research, Ghent 2017). From now on, this high-level conference will have a two-year periodicity, shuttling between Barcelona and Ghent (Belgium).
This year’s conference in Barcelona gathered 170 participants from all over the world to listen 23 renowned speakers from different plant research fields, ranging from development and metabolism to breeding and modeling. The assistants to the meeting were very active, presenting 80 posters and engaging in lively scientific discussions.
An absolutely gender-balanced list of speakers showcased the cutting edge research in plant sciences. For example, Holger Puchta and Zachary Lipmann showed the potential of genome editing technologies in plants to improve crop productivity, with Puchta making a statement on the need for European policy makers to implement a science-based policy as a priority. Single-cell biology made a splash, and Marja Timmermans, Kenneth Birnbaum and Yrjö Helariutta described different aspects of the spatiotemporal programs of root cell differentiation and root development at an unprecedented level of resolution. Root development was also the topic Siobhan Brady´s talk, exploring whether cell-type function differs across species. Throughout the meeting, many new insights were described, from the role of NAD+ cap in RNA biology in plants, a feature that is present in thousands of gene transcripts (Xuemei Chen), to arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis (Uta Paszkowsky) or potato tuber formation (Salomé Prat).
Overall, the meeting was an excellence scenario to learn on the cutting-edge fundamental plant research which will impact the agriculture of the future. Actually, as CRAG director José Luis Riechmann, pointed out in the opening of the meeting “Half of the UN Sustainable Development Goals are going to be impacted by the research we are doing”
For more information you can look for the hashtag #PlantResearch19 in Twitter and see the photos on the CRAG Facebook page.