PlantLink News April 2024

In this brimming newsletter, you can find a plethora of open PhD and ELLS courses. PlantLink is excited to announce the top-scoring themes for the Focus Group discussion on the future of plant science in the Greater Copenhagen Region and that the NKJ proposal to launch the Nordic-Baltic Plant Phenotyping Network was successful! We are happy to see both LU and SLU Alnarp on board this new endeavour. Do not forget to gear up for EPSO Fascination of Plants Day in May, instructions are below! We conclude with an interview with PlantLink’s new chair, Svend Christensen.

1) PlantLink Focus Groups discussion topics & PlantLink Day “save the date”

21 PlantLink-associated researchers joined voting to identify needs and future directions for plant science and entrepreneurship in the Greater Copenhagen Region. Among the seven pre-selected topics, the two (potentially four) scoring the highest will be further explored in Focus Groups with roundtable discussions and presented on PlantLink Day 2024!

Top scoring themes:

  • Preserved biodiversity and reduction of pesticide use in agriculture
  • Advancing plant bioinformatics, agri-tech and crop phenotyping in AI-driven transformation

This year’s PlantLink Day will have a unique format and, therefore, will come a bit later than usual. Please mark the 5th of December on your calendars and get ready to embark on a journey that bridges the past and the future of plant science!

More information and registration will be shared in the next newsletter!

2) Join Fascination of Plants Day events as part of SASUF Research and Innovation Week! – 13-17 May

The SASUF (South Africa Sweden University Forum) Research and Innovation Week brings together researchers, teachers, students, university management representatives, and many more from all the 40 SASUF partner universities. The Research and Innovation Week consists of two days filled with Satellite Events across the host country, followed by a three day Sustainability Forum,  which this year is hosted jointly by Lund University, Malmö University and SLU Alnarp. We expect over 400 delegates to come to The Satellite Events, which are organised across Sweden in a present, hybrid and online form. More information and sign up for satellite events!

Also, join us for the workshop seminars:

Click here to learn more about plant science topics in Southern Sweden.

This event will be part of EPSO‘s Fascination of Plants Day around the 18th of May! If you have more events to add under the Fascination of Plants Day banner, please contact Anna Maňourová.

3) Nordic-Baltic Plant Phenotyping Network got NKJ funding for 2024-26

Nordic Joint Committee for Agricultural and Food Research (NKJ) granted the newly formed Nordic-Baltic Plant Phenotyping Network (NB-PPN) project for 2024-2026. This will be a strong continuation of the NPPN network and incorporate important parts, such as training on data handling, of the NordPlant platform! More information will come up soon.

SLU and Lund University are proud members of NB-PPN – you can read more about the network here!

4) ADVALUE kick-off conference and 1st Steering Committee Meeting

ADVALUE Erasmus+ project (Advancing Sustainable Agricultural Value Chains through Strengthening Transdisciplinary Skills and Cooperation in East African Doctoral Education‘) had its first physical meeting hosted by Nürtingen-Geislingen University in Nürtigen, Germany, on the 7th  and 8th of March. Altogether, 25 participants from 9 different institutions attended the kick-off meeting. SLU was represented by Erik Alexandersson and Anna Maňourová.
Read more about ADVALUE

This project is a follow-up of a PlantLink-supported Erasmus+ project ESCAPAdE.

5) SLU’s teaching staff and campuses ranked highly in the International Student Barometer

The International Student Barometer (ISB) surveys approximately 120,000 students worldwide. The latest results show that SLU ranks first for teaching quality and teaching staff among all the Swedish universities surveyed. SLU’s campus environments have been awarded top grades among the participating universities worldwide.
Examples of the top categories for SLU:
Good teachers: #1 in Sweden, #2 in Europe
Quality of lectures: #1 in Sweden, #3 in Europe
Communicating with tutors: #1 in Sweden, #2 in Europe, #4 worldwide
Laboratories: #1 in Sweden, #2 in Europe, #3 worldwide
Online lectures: #1 in Sweden, #1 in Europe
Campus Environment: #1 in Sweden, #1 in Europe #1 worldwide
Making friends from this country: #1 in Sweden, #3 in Europe
Read more

6) EPSO Young Plant Scientist Award 2024 – winners announced

EPSO announced the two winners of the fourth EPSO Young Plant Scientist AwardPriyanka Chopra was selected for her fundamental plant research and Benjamin Kogelmann for his applied plant research. Priyanka and Benjamin will have the opportunity to present their research during the Science Day of the EPSO General Meeting to be held in Oeiras, Portugal on 12th of June. Congratulations!

Read more

7) NordGen Day 2024 – 14 June, Alnarp

NordGen’s headquarters in Alnarp is inviting anyone for a day dedicated to genetic resources, research and Nordic cooperation! The NordGen Day will include presentations, tours of laboratories, greenhouse and garden as well as bus trips to field cultivations in the area. NordGen’s staff will also be on-site to provide information about their work, research projects, and other current activities. The program will run from 10:00 to 14:30 on the 14th of June and include coffee/tea and a light lunch.

More information and registration

8) Join Borgeby Fältdagar – 26-27 June

Borgeby Fältdagar attracts visitors from throughout northern Europe for combination of demonstration crops, exhibitors and experts, practical demonstrations of machinery and seminars. This year’s topic is “Framtidens lantbruk”. Borgeby Fältdagar is a place for those with farming as their main interest and occupation, and it is a true trade show – in the field! SLU will not be missing, and PlantLink will also participate. We hope to see you there!

More information

9) AAB-PlantEd webinars continue; next on 9 April

Over the past four years, the PlantEd Cost Action hosted a range of webinars in which global experts reported on their research and policy work in the area of plant genome editing. As the PlantEd Core Group moved to form a Specialist Group, the webinar series continues in the AAB.
The first AAB-PlantEd webinar is on Tuesday, April 9th, at 3pm. Speakers: Ivo Frebort (Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic): An update on the regulation of NGT plants in the EU; Bing-Yang (Donald Danforth Centre, St Louis, USA): High-efficiency prime editing for new strategies to engineer crop disease resistance. Learn more


10) Join Biosolutions seminar series: Bioenergy – 23 May, Copenhagen

Biosolutions is a multidisciplinary approach that seeks to solve complex problems and promote sustainable and efficient agriculture, industrial, food, and ingredient productions by leveraging biological processes or bio-based components. The seminar series, organised by Green Solutions Center, is free of charge and open to everyone!

More information and registration

11) Join the SLU Grogrund workshop on methodology in plant breeding

SLU Grogrund will run a workshop on May 28, approx. 10:00 am – 3:00 pm with a focus on the latest methodology for use in plant breeding such as gene editing, high-throughput phenotyping and genomics. The workshop will be open for everyone. The idea is to gather actors from both industry and research to shed light on the area from different perspectives and discuss future needs for collaboration and research. The workshop will take place in Botildenborg in Malmö.

More information

12) Call for proposals: SIANI expert group

The Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI) is announcing a call for new expert groups 2024-25! If you are a cross-sector team planning a project to transform food systems, you may be eligible for funding as a SIANI expert group. Submit your application by 19 May.

More information

13) Impact Investing Challenge 2024: Gender-Climate Nexus

International Finance Cooperation (IFC) Impact Investing Challenge 2024 invites students globally to delve into the critical intersection of climate action and gender equity. This year’s challenge will focus on the challenge of climate change and its disproportionate impact on women and marginalized communities. Through this lens, IFC seeks for an innovative proposal in designing a debt or equity fund that not only addresses these disparities but also harnesses the potential of green economies to empower women in developing countries.

Proposal Submission Deadline: April 15
More information

14) CPSC conference: Translational agriculture – from model plants to crops – 21-23 August

Some of society’s most pressing questions revolve around how we can maintain food production and plant growth in the context of climate change. To address this, the Copenhagen Plant Science Center (CPSC) hosts a conference that targets crop resilience and yield stability by bridging fundamental and translational plant research with the agrifood industry.

Deadline for registration: 1st of August
More information and registration

15) 30th SPPS conference – 27-29 August, Copenhagen

The 30th SPPS Conference will be held in Copenhagen on 27-29th of August. The conference will be held at the Copenhagen Plant Science Centre. Apart from renowned speakers and SPPS prize winners, many young researchers will present their work. Do not miss the chance to meet new colleagues and talk to experienced researchers! A limited number of travel grants are available to PhD students who actively participate in the conference.

More information and registration

16) SLU LTV faculty funds 10 PhD projects

The initiative aims to remedy the lack of doctoral students by providing financial support for high-quality doctoral student projects. The support is directed towards researchers in their early careers. The 10 docents, whereof no less than five are PlantLink-associated researchers, will receive funding for a PhD project related to the PhD-project call and will present their projects on Tuesday, May 7th at 8-10 am.

Projects funded:

  • Daniel Nilsson, institutionen för biosystem och teknologi; Crop cultivation in combination with solar panels on arable land – How does it contribute to the future need for food and energy in a profitable way?
  • Fredrik Fernqvist, institutionen för människa och samhälle; Transformative governance for a sustainable food system
  • Ishi Buffam, institutionen för landskapsarkitektur, planering och förvaltning; How green should green roofs be? Ecosystem services tradeoffs and synergies from nitrogen fertilization of green roofs as they age
  • Lina Berglund-Snodgrass, institutionen för landskapsarkitektur, planering och förvaltning; Land-use planning through digital twins? Exploring emergent forms of land-use planning in the digital transformation
  • Mariette Andersson, institutionen för växtförädling; Towards a sustainable future with reduced input through enhanced starch yield and tailored starch qualities
  • Thomas Prade, institutionen för biosystem och teknologi; Climate impact mitigation and resource use efficiency of rooftop greenhouses for urban food production
  • Aakash Chawade, institutionen för växtförädling; Can the integration of ecological theory with quantitative genetics transform disease resistance breeding?
  • Lars Mogren, institutionen för biosystem och teknologi; Back to basics: The potential of Nordic heirloom vegetables for improved national food security and ability to cope with future climate changes
  • Therese Bengtsson, institutionen för växtförädling; From Stench to Scent – Genetic strategies towards bunt-free organic wheat
  • Cecilia Hammenhag, institutionen för växtförädling; Exploring seed quality traits and their genetic regulation in Swedish protein crops for enhanced diversity and nutritional stability

17) Students wanted for summer project! Join genetic diversity research on field cress

Field cress (Lepidium campestre) is a new winter-hardy oil crop for the Nordic region. The plant showed great potential to provide fatty acids (oil) and proteins that can be used for various applications such as jet fuel, feed and potentially food. However, breeding of the crop is based on a small number of accessions and broadening the gene pool by collecting wild populations of field cress will be crucial to improving the crop’s adaptability and increasing its potential use in agriculture. Researchers need help!

This project can be undertaken as a bachelor’s or master’s thesis, individually or in pairs, tailored to the interests. Find out more!

18) ELLS courses

ELLS MSc/PhD course “Plant Health in the wake of AI” – 14-22 June, Pieve Tesino, Italy
The MSc/PhD course “Plant health in the wake of AI” (5 ECTs) in Pieve Tesino, Italy, 14-22 June 2024, is given with financial support of ELLS and the LTV faculty at SLU Alnarp and in conjunction with the course “Robotic weeding in sugar beet “10 – 14 June 2024 at UHOH in Stuttgart (more info). 

The aim of the course is to bring together PhD and MSc students from different backgrounds (biology, agronomy, horticulture, agroecology, etc.) working on plant health-related areas and relate them to aspects of policy governing these fields. A special focus will be given to AI in relation to plant health. This implies machine and deep learning methods for disease and weed monitoring as well as broader aspects and a discussion on how AI will influence the research field of plant health. No advanced understanding of machine and deep learning methods is needed. Deadline to apply: April 2
More information

ELLS MSc/PhD course: Ecological and evolutionary plant breeding for sustainability – Concepts of Darwinian Agriculture – 15 – 21 July 2024, Institut Agro Montpellier
The summer school is an introduction into the key concepts, theories, and cutting-edge techniques in Darwinian Agriculture and plant breeding, and its potential applications in contemporary agricultural practices. It delves into the domain of agroecology, outlining its fundamental concepts, and highlighting the intricate interrelationship between ecology and genetics.  Key concepts introduced in the course are plant ideotypes and social traits. It will provide insights into phenomena such as shadowing avoidance, kin recognition, and discrimination in plants, along with exploration of theories and examples of individual and group selection.

The capacity is 30 participants with a priority given to ELLS Universities! Application deadline: 15 April
More information and registration

19) PhD courses

NOVA course Gene editing for plant breeding – 2-7 June, Tvärminne Zoological Station, Finland
Gene editing allows targeted mutations in the plant genome without transfer of foreign genes – the outcome can be indistinguishable from natural variants. You will learn principles of gene editing and how to design editing experiments, how legislation applies to gene editing, and discuss examples in plant breeding.

The course includes literature, lectures, presentations, posters, and site visits to breeding and research facilities. Participation is free but you have to pay your accommodation and food.
Application deadline: April 1
More information and Registration

Analytical methods in chemical ecology – 10 June – 20 June, SLU Alnarp 
The course contains a combination of online training, lectures, workshops, practical exercises and literature seminars. The lectures will cover methods of extraction of organic compounds, such as aeration, SPE, SPME and choices of organic solvents, as well as chromatography techniques such as liquid chromatography and gas chromatography. Modern identification methods in chemical ecology, including HR-GC/MS and MS/MS will be covered. Although the course is targeting SLU PhD students who will work with chemical analysis and GC-MS in particular, even MSc students, postdocs and external students are welcome if there are empty seats. The number of participants is limited, 8-12 students, to ensure a truly hands-on experience with a lot of practical exercises!
The course will be given from 10 June – 20 June in Vegetum, SLU Alnarp, with a compulsory introduction on Zoom ca two weeks in advance.
 Register your interest by emailing Björn Bohman at the latest on 10 May! Do not hesitate to contact Björn directly if you have any questions.
Understanding & Implementing Ecological Models: Bayesian analyses from beginnings to hierarchical complexity – 8-19 April, SLU Uppsala
This 2-week course (5 ECTS) organised by the Doctoral Research Schools at SLU will show you the simplicity, power and applicability of Bayesian modelling for your research, through intuitive examples of how statistical models are built and simple explanations using probability that researchers at all levels can understand.

The course will run full-time from 8-19 April 2024. The course will be IRL at akademihotellet in Uppsala, with an option for students who cannot physically attend to do the course in their own time using pre-recorded materials and exercises. More information
For details and registration contact  
Biometrical methods for analyzing breeding trial data in the omics era; 30 Sept.–4 Oct.; SLU Alnarp
The objective of the course is to provide basic biometrical and quantitative genetic concepts to be applied in designing and analyzing data from field trials, particularly elite germplasm and cultivar testing; to show practical results on multi-environment trials across sites and over years (or seasons) in different breeding contexts; to learn the quantitative genetic basis of genomic prediction in breeding and to understand statistical models for genomic prediction and their use in breeding. The target groups are post-graduate students and professionals doing field research in plant breeding, particularly those working on the analysis of controlling the inheritance of complex traits.

For more information and registration, please contact the course leader Rodomiro Ortiz and cc Marwan Alamrani.
Deadline for application: May 31

20) Open positions

SLU Alnarp
Laboratory assistant in dendrochronological laboratory
More information
Postdoc position in silviculture
More information

Lund University
Postdoctoral fellow in physical geography and ecosystem science
More information
Post-doctoral fellow in environmental science and micropollutants
More information
Doctoral student in Biology
More information

21) PhD thesis defence – Johanna Osterman

Johanna Osterman, Dept. of Plant Breeding, SLU: Advancing red clover breeding through genomic selection methods26 April9:00 Crafoord Hall, SLU or online: coming soon
Opponent: Professor Leif Skøt, Aberystwyth University, Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences, UK

Johanna will nail her thesis on April 12th at 14.00 in Navet.

22) Researcher in the spotlight – PlantLink’s new chair Svend Christensen

Professor Svend Christensen is the head of the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PLEN) at the University of Copenhagen and is the new chair of PlantLink! Welcome again! He took part in initiating the Nordic Plant Phenotyping Network (NPPN) and Plant Biologicals network. Svend’s current research is driven by an interest in innovation at the intersection between sustainable agricultural systems and biosolutions.

Read the interview