PlantLink News December-January 2023/24

Welcome to the last Newsletter of the year! This edition brings important updates on PlantLink, PBN and EPSO memberships and many open positions in the region. Dive into various reports, save dates for 2024 courses, workshops, and symposia, and read an insightful interview with Siri Caspersen and Gunnar Thelin from Ekobalans. Congratulations to all the successful grant applicants in 2023!

We wish you a relaxing holiday, a calm Christmas, and a Happy New 2024!


1) PlantLink in 2024

We are happy to announce that PlantLink will continue for one more year (at least!). Apart from Olivier Van Aken, who took over as PlantLink’s assistant director last month, Anna Maňourová will remain as PlantLink’s coordinator in 2024. Erik Alexandersson will keep his position as acting director.

This secures PlantLink’s activities next year, and many activities will continue as before: Anna will oversee the coordination, our newsletter and website will remain the same, and PlantLink Day is planned for October.

As always, we appreciate your input on your wants and needs as plant researchers in the region! How can PlantLink assist you, and what opportunities do you see in further development?

2) Plant Biologicals Network (PBN) and European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO) announcement 

PlantLink has covered the EPSO membership fee for the last ten years, and since its inception in 2018, the PBN fee for both LU and SLU Alnarp. Unfortunately, we will not be able to continue this initiative next year. The good news is that SLU will centrally cover PBN membership for SLU researchers, and some LU research groups will join as well. Magnus Karlsson will be the new PBN contact at SLU. Similarly, the EPSO membership will be covered by the SLU Department of Plant Breeding, and Lund University will remain a member. This secures the region’s researchers’ future participation in these two networks.  

3) Congratulations! Awarded Research Grants in 2023

PlantLink congratulates all Lund University and SLU Alnarp researchers who have secured funding for plant and agricultural research projects! Who succeeded in VR and Formas calls this year?

Read the report

4) Report from NordPlant end-meeting “The future of plant phenotyping”

NordPlant is coming to an end. The activities of NordPlant have been funded by NordForsk and supported by five Nordic universities for the last six years.

The final annual meeting was held on 22-23 November in Båstad, Sweden, with the theme “The future of plant phenotyping”.

Read the full report here

5) Read the PlantLink Day 2023 report: sustainable solutions for resilient agrifood systems

On the 5th of October, Lund University hosted the 12th PlantLink Day! And it was a grand one! Despite the decision to hold a physical event only, “Biodiversity: the key to resilient agri-food systems” as the main theme attracted a record number of participants. More than 160 people signed up.

Read more

6) EPSO Young Plant Scientist Award 2024 is open for entries

EPSO wishes to encourage the development of ideas and imaginative thinking in plant science and is therefore offering two awards to young scientists to attend the Science Day (12.6.2024) of the EPSO General Meeting to be held in Oeiras, Portugal and present their research to EPSO’s representatives from across Europe.

The awards will cover registration and travel, and the awardee can present a lecture on her / his research during a plenary session of the Science Day and will receive an honorarium of 200 €. Applications are invited from PhD students working on either fundamental or applied plant research. One award will be offered in each category.

Read more

7) Mariette Andersson presented her findings on gene editing in EPSO Plant Science seminar

Mariette Andersson, the Department of Plant Breeding at SLU Alnarp, joined the 27th EPSO Plant Science Seminar on “potential of gene editing”. Mariette presented her research findings in a speech entitled “The Swedish CRISPR-potato – a sustainability challenge solved with a few cuts in the genome”. As an EPSO member you can access the recording of the whole seminar here! Thank you for a great representation!

8) ADVALUE – new Erasmus+ program on capacity building in higher education in East Africa

Together with an international consortium, Nürtingen-Geislingen University received 800,000 euros in project funds from the EU Erasmus+ program for capacity building in higher education. The acronym ADVALUE stands for ‘Advancing Sustainable Agricultural Value Chains through Strengthening Transdisciplinary Skills and Cooperation in East African Doctoral Education‘. This project is a natural follow-up of a PlantLink-supported Erasmus+ project ESCAPAdE (Erasmus Curricula in Applied Plant Sciences).

From the Swedish side, Anna Maňourová will coordinate this three-year project starting in January 2024.

Read more

9) MAX IV synchrotron imaging methods – workshop at SLU and advanced school in Lund

MAX IV-SLU is inviting researchers to join a workshop “Examining plant, animal and environment with synchrotron X-ray imaging” with the aim of introducing the MAX IV synchrotron imaging methods and their use in relevant research. The workshop will take place on 11th January 2024, 8:30-12:30 am, at SLU Alnarp, Dept of Plant Breeding (seminar room Triticum in the H-house) and via Zoom (Join Zoom).

FASEM2024 is a French-Swedish advanced school organised in Lund from March 11 to 15, 2024, for doctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and researchers in Life Sciences who wish to discover or deepen structural X-ray and neutron scattering techniques, from experimentation to complete and in-depth analysis of data, based on modelling approaches. The 5-day school will include lectures and tutorials, a poster session, group work sessions, as well as visits to the MAX-IV synchrotron and the future European spallation neutron source ESS. 

Registration fees are reduced to only 100 €, and grants can be requested for transport costs, particularly for participants from outside Sweden. Priority will be given to participants from French and Swedish laboratories.

Check the program and Register here before February 10, 2024 – a CV and a short cover letter are required.

10) IOBC PhD Symposium on Biological Control of arthropod pests and plant diseases – 22-25 April, Barcelona, Spain

The symposium is scheduled from April 22nd to 25th at the Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) in Cabrils, Barcelona, Spain. It is an opportunity for PhD students to share their research and discuss it with their peers, benefiting from the advice and feedback of experienced researchers. This inaugural edition of the symposium will explore advancements in biological control, focusing on entomology, acarology and phytopathology.

The PhD students interested in joining this symposium should submit a motivation letter to Sophie Le Hesran  before the 15th of January.

More information

11) Sign up for “Crop field and algae phenotyping” workshop – 20 March, Oslo

This joint NordPlant/UPSCALE, NPPN and PhotoSyntech workshop on ”Crop field and algae phenotyping” will take place in Oslo, Norway, on 20 March and will be followed by Norwegian Plant Biology 2024. It will feature lectures in the morning and three parallel hands on sessions in the afternoon. The number of participants is limited to 50.

More information and registration on UPSCALE-NordPlant’s homepage

12) Sign up for Swedish Climate Symposium – 15-17 May, Norrköping

The 2nd Swedish Climate Symposium is focusing on Climate research for society: understanding the science, investigating environmental and societal implications and exploring governance responses. The Symposium is a unique opportunity for scholars to reflect on and share contributions to climate science.

Deadline for abstracts: 18 January!

More information

13) Workshop on the reuse of residual streams in circular food systems – 17 January, SLU Alnarp

An SLU workshop is organised on the 17th of January regarding the “Reuse of residual streams in circular food systems- opportunities and challenges” to enhance the interactions between academia and industry in this area.

Read more

14) Course on experimental statistics – 28 February, Linköping

SLU Fältforsk invites you to a course in experimental statistics aimed at those who work in different ways with field experiments for agriculture and encounter statistics. The focus is on understanding statistical concepts and results.

Application deadline: February 1

More information

15) Save the date: 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.

Details and registration are coming up soon!

More information

16) Congratulations to Cecilia Hammenhag on new Energimyndigheten project grant

The Swedish Energy Agency (Energimyndigheten) granted Cecilia Hammenhag, SLU, and the project “Cultivating sustainable energy and empowering Swedish agriculture through a novel oil crop” 9.3 MSEK for establishing a biobased value chain for producing fatty acids and proteins from a novel oil crop developed for Nordic regions where plant oil production is low. The project is running from 2023/12/01 to 2026/12/31 and has a total budget of 12 MSEK, with collaborative contributions from industrial and academic partners, including Preem, Sveriges Frö och Oljeväxtodlare, Skeby gårdar, RISE, and Lund University.

Read more

17) Interview: Nordic researchers aim to better prepare agriculture for dealing with climate change – Erik Alexandersson

Climate change is making the Nordic Region warmer, and we’re experiencing more intense periods of drought and extreme rainfall. This not only changes the conditions for agriculture, with reduced quality and new plant diseases, but also provides opportunities for growing new plant species. PlantLink’s director Erik Alexandersson, researcher at SLU Alnarp pointed out that the biggest problem posed by climate change for agriculture and forestry is the lack of predictability.

Read the full interview

18) Video: plant response to stress and mechanical stimulation – Olivier van Aken

Utbildningsradion, the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company, invited Olivier van Aken and his team from Lund University to create a short film on plant reactions to stress and mechanical stimulation. The result is a very nice and informative video! See below:



19) Read the report from SIANI regional network meeting in Nairobi 2023

On the 15th of November 2023, PlantLink joined the members of the SIANI network (Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative), who gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, and online for a full day of inspirational presentations, knowledge exchange, and networking. The theme of the day was “Partnerships and collaborations for food system transformation”.

The 2023 regional SIANI meeting was held in conjunction with an AgriFoSe2030 workshop organised by SLU and SEI (Stockholm Environmental Institute).

Read more

20) PlantLink Industrial Mentorship Program held its final meeting

On the December 1st we concluded the 6th round of PlantLink Industrial Mentorship Program. This round was exceptional with a record number of 12 mentee-mentor pairs successfully completing the program. We heard very positive feedback from everyone! PlantLink would like to express sincere thanks for all the contributions! Next month, a brief report on the program will be provided. 

21) Open positions

SLU Alnarp

Professor (fully tenured) in forestry with focus on forest regeneration

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Professor (fully tenured) in forestry with focus on forest management systems

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Assistant Professor in Conservation Ecology with a focus on the effects of forestry on ground vegetation

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Postdoc position: Continuous cover forestry – managing for complex forest stand structures

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Postdoc position in browsing tolerant trees

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Postdoctoral position in chemical ecology

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PhD position in the subject area biology, emphasis chemical ecology

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Post-doctoral Researcher in Nature-based Transformations in Cities and Regions with a focus on Capacity Building

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PhD student in Nature-based Transformations in Cities and Regions with a focus on Governing and Financing

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PhD student for project on retail actions for food waste reduction

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Lund University

Post-doctoral researcher in plant molecular biology

More information

22) Researcher in the Spotlight – Siri Caspersen

Siri Caspersen is an associate professor in horticulture and works as a researcher within the Horticultural Production Physiology group at SLU Alnarp. Her research focuses on plant–soil interactions. How can plants efficiently use phosphorus and other nutrients from soil, fertilizers and waste products? Can we utilize mycorrhizal symbiosis in horticultural plant production?

Read the interview

PlantLink is thankful to Siri for all her help in representing the region’s researchers in the EPSO project CropBooster+!

23) Story of Success – EkoBalans

In this interview, Gunnar Thelin, the founder and business development manager of EkoBalans AB and former researcher at Lund University, introduces an innovative company that provides solutions for the sustainable recycling of nutrients through the development of circular fertilisers and soil amendments. What inspired the company’s creation? What technology does EkoBalans apply?

Read the interview