In September 2014, the COST Action FA1306: ‘The Quest for Tolerant Varieties – Phenotyping at Plans and Cellular Level’ began, and scientists from IPK Gatersleben (Astrid Junker and Thomas Altmann) as well as Forschungszentrum Jülich (Ulrich Schurr and Roland Pieruschka) represent Germany in the management committee. (>> http://www.cost.EU/COST_Actions/FA/actions/FA1306).
Sponsored by the European COST framework (European Cooperation in Science and Technology,
>> http://www.cost.eu/ ), COST Action FA1306 is a measure that has a duration of four years and is coordinated by Sebastien Carpentier (Chair, KU Leuven, Belgium) and Ulrich Schurr (co-chair, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany).
In this context, European scientists from twenty-eight countries are members of an interdisciplinary consortium with diverse expertise in the following areas:
- plant phenotyping and sensor technologies;
- plant physiology;
- genomics and plant phenotyping at the cellular level (transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics); and
- modelling and simulation of plant growth.
In special focus is the application of these methods for the analysis of plant genetic resources, the potential of which can thus be made accessible for future breeding programmes.
Thus, the COST Action follows a key aim with regard to increasing productivity, sustainability, and resilience of crop varieties and agricultural systems.
The integration of various biological and technological research areas represented in the COST Action has many benefits:
- enables exchange between involved scientists;
- creates, strengthens, and expands existing networks (for example, EPPN, DPPN);
- encourages the development of new collaborations with industrial partners;
- supports the training and further education of scientific talent in an interdisciplinary framework that reflects the scientific, social, and economic relevance of COST’s central objectives.
The first general meeting of COST Action FA1306: 'The Quest for Tolerant Varieties – Phenotyping at Plans and Cellular Level' took place at the IPK From 22 to 24 June 2015.
The meeting was well attended with 135 registered participants from 28 European countries, including scientists from IPK.
The program was divided into three sessions, according to the three working groups of the action, and comprises four keynote lectures by leading scientists from different fields, forty additional lectures, as well as thirty-five presented posters.
In the first session, Working Group 1:
Whole-Plant-Level Phenotyping), participants presented new sensors and multi-sensor setups for plant phenotyping for the quantification of various traits (nutritional condition, pathogen infestation, biomass, and photosynthetic performance) under various conditions (natural – in the field; controlled – in the greenhouse, stress and control conditions).
In addition to the above-ground phenotyping of shoot properties, some participants also presented approaches to root phenotyping.
Professor Malcolm Bennett (University of Nottingham, UK) presented automated systems for recording high-resolution, 3D root models by using computer tomographic methods.
On the second day, participants of Working Group 2:
Phenotyping at the Cellular Level discussed cellular plant phenotyping with a special focus on metabolomics methods.
Prof. Yves Gibon (INRA Bordeaux, France) gave insights into the different uses of metabolic phenotyping, ranging from predicting plant performance to in-silico modelling of metabolic processes.
Additional lectures addressed various plant species (from Arabidopsis to soy beans, from maize to halophytes) and different metabolomics approaches, ranging from lipidomics through phytohormone profiling to comprehensive analysis of the entire primary metabolism).
The focus of the third meeting day, Working Group 3:
The Integration of Whole Plants and Cellular Phenotyping was the theme 'From Genes to Phene: Screening Natural Diversity'.
Prof. Andreas Graner (IPK) introduced the IPK Gene Bank and explained various approaches to the development and valorization of plant genetic resources.
Dr. Peter Wenzl (Divseek liaison at the Global Crop Diversity Trust, Bonn) presented the goals and activities of the DivSeek initiative (www.divseek.org), a network of scientists, gene bank curators, and breeders established to promote the mobilisation and use of agricultural crops in gene banks.
Prof. Andreas Graner was recently elected as a member of the DivSeek Steering Committee.
In addition to the lecture and poster program, guides offered tours through various facilities and gave information about the equipment at the IPK on all three days of the meeting.
The participants followed with great interest the tours through the Genebank (with Dr. Ulrike Lohwasser), the metabolomics platform of the Heterosis workgroup (with Dr. David Riewe), and the LemnaTec facilities (with Dr. Kathleen Walker-Fischer, Dr. Astrid Junker, and Prof. Thomas Altmann).
The scientific program finished with a city tour including a short stroll at Quedlinburg Castle and a conference dinner at the hotel "Zur Schlossmühle".
The COST meeting at the IPK was a great success, and all participants gave positive feedback about the organisation of the Conference, the various scientific programs as well as the IPK as a significant and attractive location for plant research, of which awareness and perception in Europe was further increased because of the conference.
I would like to thank all keynote speakers, all presenters, as well as all other participants for their many interesting lectures, posters, discussions, and ideas!
I would also like to thank all volunteers from the IPK Casino, the work group BIT, MW, and HET as well as the employees of the IPK. The successful implementation of this meeting would have been impossible without them.
Last but not least, I thank the financial donors – COST, IPK, DPPN! Because of their support, this meeting could be held without a conference fee.
The reimbursement of travel expenses through COST participation in this Conference was possible for many scientists and scholars, mainly from European countries with less research funding.
Figure 1: Participants of the 1st general meeting of the COST Action FA1306: 'The Quest for Tolerant Varieties – Phenotyping at Plant and Cellular Level' at the IPK.
Figure 2: Organising committee of the meeting: back row (left to right) Diego Rubiales, Spain; Andreas Voloudakis, Greece; Estelle Goulas, France; Sebastien Carpentier (Chair), Belgium; Carl-Otto Ottosen, Denmark; Eva Rosenquist, Denmark; Rick van de Zedde, Netherlands; Thomas Altmann (IPK, Germany). Front row (left to right): Dyonisia Fasoula, Cyprus; Carla Pinheiro, Portugal; Astrid Junker (IPK, Germany). Not pictured: Ulrich Schurr (Co-Chair, FZJ, Germany).
STSM – short-term scientific missions.
One of the central activities of the COST Action is the promotion and financial support for short-term scientific missions (up to 6 months) for young scientists (early stage researchers, PhD plus 8 years) in European research facilities of their choice.
STSM have multiple objectives:
Scientific exchange, the promotion of future collaborations, giving young researchers the opportunity to continue their education in methods of plant phenotyping at different levels (from the whole plant down to the cellular level) and train them in this interdisciplinary field.
In the framework of COST FA1306,
there are three to four calls for applications every year, where young scientists can submit their STSM project applications.
More information can be found at the following link:
Contact and STSM Coordinator for COST FA1306: Astrid Junker (IPK), firstname.lastname@example.org