Plenary Closeup: Biomolecular Condensates the Foundation for Innovations to Come

 Plenary Closeup: Biomolecular Condensates the Foundation for Innovations to Come

Biomolecular condensates, the tiny combinations of proteins and mRNA forming membrane-less compartments within cells, have big potential implications for the future of not just plants but humans. On Sunday, August 6, at 9:00 am, the #PlantBio2023 plenary “Highlights of New and Emerging Research on Biomolecular Condensates in Plants” will dive into this new field and its recent discoveries. 

“It’s going to be a great way to get your feet wet and understand what biomolecular condensates are,” said plenary convener Sterling Field of the Carnegie Institute for Science. “And for folks who are already familiar, they’ll get to hear the cutting-edge research on both regulation and formation.” 

It’s only within the past few years that biomolecular condensates have emerged “as a mechanism in organizing transcriptional machineries and other cellular processes across the kingdoms of life,” explained Sheng-Yang He of Duke University.  

“Overall, we’re learning whether manipulating regulators to survive stress or enhance growth can help with agriculture and climate change, as well as human health,” added Field. “When biomolecular condensates stop functioning properly, they turn over, the way human cells do. Of course, the proteins are plant specific, but the pathways are similar. Several neurodegenerative diseases in humans have been implicated.” 

“If I was going to describe condensates with one word, it would be ‘dynamic,’” said Monika Chodasiewicz of King Abdullah University of Science & Technology. “The field is quite new, and there are still so many questions to be answered. I’m particularly interested in stress granules, which form within minutes and disassemble when the stressor is gone.” 

“Recently we stumbled into GBPL3-Defence-Associated-Condensate (GDAC), a biomolecular condensate required for plant immunity that’s negatively impacted by abnormally warm temperatures,” He mentioned. 

“Understanding the function of these condensates is going to be really important for agriculture in the coming years,” continued Field. “The foundation is being laid right now.”  

Emilio Gutierrez-Beltran of the University of Sevilla will also speak. Read the plenary description, and see more scientific content in the complete Plant Biology 2023 program