Climate Change and the Future of Agriculture

Monday, August 7, 9:00 – 11:30 am

Amanda Pereira De Souza

Our rapidly changing climate poses a serious threat to humanity, presenting worldwide challenges to our ability to produce and distribute food. Plant biologists can help address these challenges by developing more climate resilient crops and more sustainable agricultural practices. Success will depend upon coordinated efforts between academics, companies, and governmental agencies as well as across scientific disciplines. In this symposium, scientists with expertise in climate change, photosynthesis, science administration, and industry policy will present their perspectives on the future of agriculture in the face of a changing climate.

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

U.S. Department of Agriculture


University of Georgia

Highlights of New and Emerging Research on Biomolecular Condensates in Plants

Sunday, August 6, 9:00 – 11:30 am

Plant biology has been flooded with numerous examples of proteins and pathways that localize to membraneless sub-cellular compartments. These compartments have recently been grouped together under the umbrella term biomolecular condensates, and describes any sub-cellular condensate, regardless of how they form. Examples of bimolecular condensates include stress granules, processing bodies, photo-bodies, nuclear speckles, and metabolons. Biomolecular condensates in plants have been identified as crucial for regulating aspects of plant development, abiotic and biotic stress response, hormone signaling, metabolism, and RNA processing. This plenary discusses some examples of these biomolecular condensates, and highlights a few examples of the important roles and functions of biomolecular condensates in plants.

Sterling Field

Carnegie Institute for Science

King Abdullah University of Science & Technology

Duke University

University of Sevilla

Thriving in Deep Space: Plant Biology for the Moon, Mars, and Beyond

Wednesday, August 9, 9:00 – 11:30 am

(Staff Photos by Rob Mattson/The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation) Elison Blancaflor stands for a portrait in the third floor Lablink inside the Plant Biology building on The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation campus in Ardmore, Okla., Monday afternoon, November 7, 2016.
Elison Blancaflor

NASA’s Artemis program in collaboration with European, Canadian, and Japanese space agencies, and various commercial partners, marks the return of humankind to the Moon. Unlike the Apollo lunar missions from fifty years ago, Artemis will set the stage for the continuous presence of humans on the Moon and pave a path for the journey to Mars and beyond. Plants will be an essential component of habitation systems that will enable humans to thrive on both the lunar and Mars surface, as well as space transit vehicles because of their nutritional and psychological benefits. Furthermore, plants will be valued in environmental control and life support systems because they generate oxygen, remove carbon dioxide, and recycle water and waste. However, an in-depth understanding of how plants and their associated microbial communities adapt to the harsh and confined environment of deep space is essential before they can be effectively used for long-duration space missions. This plenary symposium will address challenges and present potential solutions to growing plants in space. The four speakers will cover a broad range of topics, including mechanistic studies on fern resurgence after asteroid-triggered mass extinction events, artificial photosynthesis for space agriculture, and how the plant microbiome and an understanding of plant-pathogen dynamics in microgravity can guide crop production strategies in space.

NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center

University of Maine

Purdue University

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

University of California, Riverside

Intercellular Communication in Plants: The Long and Short of It

Tuesday, August 8, 9:00 – 11:30 am

Intercellular communication was a key innovation in the evolution of multicellularity. As sessile organisms whose cells are restricted to their relative positions by rigid cell walls, plants depend on intercellular communication to coordinate cellular functions during development and growth, and in response to environmental cues. This non cell-autonomous signaling involves trafficking of different classes of molecules through plasmodesmata, small pores that form a continuum between the cytoplasm of neighboring plant cells. The study of plasmodesmata structure and function and long and short-distance molecule trafficking is an intense field of research. Yet there are several open questions regarding the dynamic regulation of plasmodesmata architecture and the specificity of molecule mobility through plasmodesmata. This plenary session aims to bring together experts in plasmodesmata biology to discuss recent advances in this rapidly evolving field, including the role of plasmodesmata structure in specifying signaling pathways as well as their plasticity. The session will also feature experts in long-and-short distance intercellular communication who will discuss the specificity of RNA and small molecule mobility. Lastly, the session will provide insights into the applications of intercellular communication in grafting compatibility and mobile genome editing.

Sessen Iohannes

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

University of Leeds


Cornell University

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology

Presidential Symposium

Saturday, August 5, 1:30 – 6:00 pm

Gustavo MacIntosh, ASPB President