News: L. Maria Lois and Núria Sánchez-Coll organize the B-debate “Plant Proteostasis. Towards a Green Based Industry”
On the 27th and 28th of September took place in Barcelona, the B-debate “Plant Proteostasis. Towards a Green Based industry”, led by CRAG researchers L. Maria Lois and Núria Sánchez-Coll. B-Debate, an initiative of Biocat with support from Obra Social “La Caixa”, aims to drive top-notch international scientific events to foster debate, collaboration and open exchange of knowledge in order to tackle complex challenges of high interest in the life sciences. The B-Debate led by CRAG researches brought together experts in basic and applied plant sciences and experts in plant industrial uses -specifically those involved in the conversion of biomass into renewable materials and energy- with the common goal of identifying current challenges and to seek solutions for the transition to a sustainable economy.
On the first day of the B-debate, which took place in Cosmocaixa Barcelona, the debate focused on the molecular mechanisms which regulate the synthesis, folding, trafficking and degradation of proteins (i.e.: proteostasis or protein homeostasis). It was highlighted that proteostasis regulation is essential for plant survival in adverse environmental conditions or in front of pathogen attack, but also plays a key role in plant development. For example, the manipulation of autophagy, whose discovery was recognized by the Nobel Prize this year, results in an extension of plant life. The second day of the B-debate focused on industrial crops and their applications, particularly in biomaterials and biofuels. Replacing fossil-derived plastics is a challenge because they come from non-renewable sources and are highly polluting since they are not biodegradable; they may even be harmful for our health. The use of vegetal fibres already offers advantages during their production, because plants fix CO2, but additionally they are renewable material, biodegradable and do not pollute. As it became clear, the replacement of plastics with plant materials is a reality in the production of car and airplane coatings, snowboard or dollar bills, among others, as well as in building materials. Nevertheless, their global implementation requires technological improvement and increased productivity of industrial crops. In this context, it was highlighted the necessity to promote research on plant biotechnology as a strategy to accelerate the transition to a sustainable society.
Several mass media echoed this B -Debate. The newspaper El Mundo published an article that focuses on one of the topics discussed in the meeting, the use of biomass as an energy source. La Vanguardia also published and article about the use of vegetal species to replace plastics and this newspaper also published a report on bioplastics and their advantages and disadvantages. In the same manner, EFE verde echoed the meeting in an article which claims the benefits of bioplastics in front fossil-derived plastic. That same article can be found in catalan in the digital platform El Nacional.
This was the first meeting addressing basic research in plant proteostasis and its application in the industry. This B-debate counted with the COST Proteostasis action as co-organizers, and it had the financial support of the “Severo Ochoa Centers of Excellence Program in R&D 2016-2019” from the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and Agrisera.
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