PlantLink News March 2024

Welcome to the latest PlantLink Newsletter! As spring unfolds, we are excited to introduce PlantLink Focus Groups, tackling key plant science topics to shape future research directions. Remember to “save the dates” for SASUF Research and Innovation Week and Fascination of Plants Day. Moreover, European R&I Days take place in March. Students, do not miss out on the special call for plant breeding projects this summer! Check out the packed point with MSc and PhD courses and note the two PhD defences happening on the 1st of March! Aside from open positions at LU and SLU, interesting vacancies are available at the Agricultural University of Iceland. Finally, we are wrapping up with an interview about innovation in urban food production with Annie Drottberger!

1) What is the future of plant science in the region? PlantLink introduces its Focus Groups concept!

This initiative aims to identify future directions and goals in plant research and entrepreneurship in the Greater Copenhagen Region. PlantLink has pre-selected key topics for discussion in small groups of different stakeholders led by a PlantLink-associated researcher. Save the date! The group outcomes will be shared publicly and linked to PlantLink Day 2024 on 5 December in Lund, where you will have the opportunity to discuss, contribute, and shape the outcomes.

We will be back with more updates soon!

2) Join multiple satellite SASUF events during Research and Innovation Week! – 13-14 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 where everyone gathers for joint workshops. The Satellite Events are organised across Sweden in a present, hybrid and online form. All the events are free and open to everyone! More information and sign up

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!

3) Register for European Research and Innovation (R&I) Days 2024 – 20-21 March

This year’s EU R&I Days bring the opportunity to debate how we can make Europe greener, fairer and more competitive under a common narrative: a 40-year journey through the Research and Innovation Framework Programmes.

The fifth edition of the European Commission’s annual flagship research and innovation event will take place during the Research and Innovation Week on 20 and 21 March. Please contact us if you plan to participate in this event in place or online as we have more information from EPSO.

More information and registration

4) Two departments became one – new department at LU, LTH

A new Department of Process and Life Science Engineering was formed in January 2024, under the lead of Mattias Alveteg. It is a merger between the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Department of Food Technology, Engineering and Nutrition at the LTH faculty, Lund University. The department promises to work on the global forefront of chemical engineering, food technology and drug formulation, running several projects with industry.

5) Meet NewClim, Erasmus+ Programme focused on climate transition with smarter production methods for grapes and apples

The project aims at enhancing cooperation between EU universities, with a focus on supporting the climate transition and smarter practices in the agriculture sector. The project will transfer research results to create teaching materials, a digital platform, and common curricula and adopt a comprehensive approach to the perennial culture.

Why are French researchers fascinated by Swedish wine productionFind out more!

6) Sign up for NordPlant/NPPN/PhotoSyntech “Crop field and algae phenotyping” workshop – 20 March, Oslo

This joint NordPlant/UPSCALENPPN 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.

Deadline for registration: 1 March!

More information and registration on UPSCALE-NordPlant’s homepage 

7) Join Biosolutions seminar series: Bioenergy – 23 May

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 will come up shortly, however, you can already register here!

8) SIANI: report from annual meeting and sign up for media engagement workshop

Over 50 Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI) members and partners gathered in person in Stockholm on 31 January to discuss sustainability, food security, and new solutions to the challenges posed by urbanisation, rural development. The theme was the impact of rapid urbanisation on food systems, particularly in urban and peri-urban. Anna Maňourová represented PlantLink in round table discussions and the newly established SIANI’s East African Agrobiologicals working group.

Read more

AgriFoSe2030 and SIANI have partnered to host media engagement training to equip researchers in the field of agriculture and food systems with the necessary skills and knowledge to communicate their research findings effectively to diverse audiences through various media channels. The training aims to enhance the researchers’ ability to bridge the gap between scientific-based knowledge and public understanding, fostering increased awareness, engagement and impact.

More information and registration

9) FASEM2024 – advanced school on structural X-ray and neutron scattering techniques – 11-15 March, Lund

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 approachesRegistration 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) 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

11) 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!

Contact person: Cecilia Hammenhag, Department of Plant Breeding, SLU Alnarp

12) SLU GroGrund workshop, save the date – 28 May

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 will be available in April!

13) MSc/PhD 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
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  
Doctoral course on Forest damage – Monitoring and environmental assessment
The objective is to provide students with a basic understanding of environmental assessments and how to design programs for monitoring forest damage, the incidence of damaging agents and the risk of damage. The course combines theoretical lectures, practical demonstrations of monitoring and students will critically evaluate the monitoring methods they use in their respective projects.

The course starts with an introduction to the topic online followed by a weekly, digital lectures/literature discussion, providing the students with knowledge on basic concepts and their application to monitoring in management. During the on-site week, lectures on monitoring and sampling theory will be combined with lectures on specific methods. Deadline for registration: 6 March!
More information and registration

14) Open positions

SLU Alnarp
Associate Senior Lecturer/Assistant Professor in landscape architecture with a focus on soil-plant systems for an urban context
More information
Postdoc position in Plant host-microbiome interactions
More information
Postdoctoral position in systems analysis of biogas and biorefinery production systems
More information

Lund University
Doctoral student in Modelling of forest vulnerability to climate stress
More information
Doctoral student in Remote sensing of Ecosystem resilience
More information

Agricultural University of Iceland
Assistant professor in Plant Breeding
More information
Assistant Professor in Crop Science
More information
Assistant breeder for barley and wheat
More information
Genomic breeder for barley and wheat
More information

15) PhD thesis defence – Ying Liu, Matthew Lukenge

Ying Liu, Dept. of Plant Breeding, SLUModulation of the glycoalkaloid biosynthesis pathway in potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) and development of CRISPR/Cas9 methodology for tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.); 1 March, 9:00 Crafoord Hall, SLU or online:; Passcode: 057501

Opponent: Professor Cathie Martin, The John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, UK

Matthew Lukenge, Dept. of Plant Protection Biology, SLU: Phagostimulatory dynamics of adenine nucleotides in mosquitoes: advancing a taste-based delivery method for vector control agents; 1st March,13.00, Crafoord Hall, SLU or on-line; Passcode: 903504

Opponent: Doctor Chisaku Sakuma, Laboratory for Nutritional Biology, RIKEN Center for Biosystems Dynamics Research, Kobe, Japan

The thesis is digitally nailed at Phagostimulatory dynamics of adenine nucleotides in mosquitoes

16) Researcher in the Spotlight – Annie Drottberger

Annie Drottberger is a researcher and lecturer in Horticultural Science at the Department of Biosystems and Technology at SLU Alnarp. Annie’s research focuses on adopting innovations and knowledge in horticultural production systems focusing on high-tech greenhouse productionPlant Factories with Artificial Lighting (PFAL) and rooftop farming. How can new technologies contribute to urban food production? What socio-technical paradigm should we employ to make our food systems more sustainable? 

Read the interview!