PlantLink News – September

With the warmth of summer fading, we extend a hearty welcome back to all PlantLink members! Let’s unfold what happened during the summertime and see what awaits in the autumn. PlantLink Day registration closes on 01 October! Do not forget to sign up to join the intriguing debates on “Biodiversity: the key to resilient agri-food systems”. A lot has happened on the EU and national levels over the summer. Get the latest updates on changes in Swedish funding as well as the EU Commission’s crops and agriculture proposals. NordPlant is undergoing a significant transition as it turns into NordPlant-UPSCALE, which is already contributing to The Nordic Council’s vision of 2030. PlantLink’s representatives participated in the new EPSO working group, and some also joined the EPSO General Assembly. As usual, the newsletter is brimming with conferences, seminars, courses and events to attend! Finally, we would like to acknowledge professor Rajni Hatti-Kaul for her many years of support and dedication to PlantLink.


1. Register for PlantLink Day, 5 October, Lund

The theme for this year is “Biodiversity: the key to resilient agri-food systems.”
Confirmed speakers: Agnes Bernis Fonteneau, Sapienza Università di Roma, with 15 years of experience with FAO and Bioversity International; Lise Lykke Steffensen, Director of the Nordic Genetic Resource Centre; Mohammad Bahram, Department of Ecology, SLU; Maj Rundlöf, principal investigator at Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate, Lund University; Susanne Arvidsson, Director of the Mistra BIOPATH project, Lund University; and Michael Broberg Palmgren, professor at the department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of Copenhagen.
See the program and Register here

2. Sign up for the Final NordPlant Annual meeting: The future of plant phenotyping, 22-23 November, Båstad

Join NordPlant’s last annual meeting! We will sum up the progress around plant phenotyping and modelling for future climates, but foremost, we will look into the future of plant phenotyping! Confirmed keynote speakers are David Rousseau (INREA)Shawn Kefauver (University of Barcelona) and Øystein Opedal (LU).
The meeting will be in Hotell Skansen, Båstad, Sweden. A full program will be announced later. The meeting will be back-to-back with the NPPN annual workshop. A number of rooms at Hotell Skansen will be pre-booked for participants. Hotel rooms are paid by the participants, but if you apply before 1 September, there are still some free tickets covering food for onsite attendance. It is also possible to attend by paying a fee of 1,250 SEK or online.
Full program and sign up for the meeting here!

3. NordPlant turns into NordPlant-UPSCALE

End of 2022 NordForsk granted the proposal “UPSCALE – Upscaling crop performance monitoring by linking satellite and field biosignatures” 10 million NOK.

We are happy to announce that UPSCALE will use to spread information! This will both keep the work done as part of NordPlant, and it will be more durable and give better exposure to UPSCALE. The NordPlant University Hub will finish at the end of 2023. However, the homepage will now live on with UPSCALE! See the new logo here!

UPSCALE is run by The Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry (LAMMC), Lund University, SLU, University of Helsinki and UiT, the Arctic University of Norway, with associated partner the University of Copenhagen. The UPSCALE project spans over four years, 2023-2026. For more information about UPSCALE, please get in touch with the coordinator Erik Alexandersson.

4. NordPlant and UPSCALE contribute to the Nordic Council of Ministers and The Nordic Council’s vision of 2030

This 5-page policy brief highlights the need for phenotyping and remote sensing of crops to make Nordic (and Baltic) agriculture more sustainable and competitive. One of several issues is smooth and efficient data handling.

Read more here: “Plant phenotyping and remote sensing for a sustainable and competitive Nordic agriculture”  (Pages 82-87)

5. Register for the Symposium dedicated to Millets – 5 September, SLU Alnarp

2023 is the international year of millets. SLU will highlight it with a symposium on the 5th of September in Alnarp or online! Do not miss the opportunity to learn more and discuss the importance of millets in food security and the changing global climate. The day is co-organized by SLU Breeding NetworkSLU Plant Protection Network and SLU Global.

Registration has been extended to September 1!

Register here
More information here

6. Join Agri4D 2023 online conference, 26-28 September

The Agri4D conference “Building resilient food systems in uncertain times” aims to bridge science, policy and practice to create a real-world impact on global food systems to help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger. All stakeholders, including researchers, practitioners, civil society, private sectors, and policymakers, are invited to join the conference to co-create solutions to build resilient food systems.

The conference will be held online on 26-28 September with two different themes: Securing food and nutrition within planetary boundaries and Governance and rights in food systems: Leaving no one behind.
More information

7. PlantLink representatives in new EPSO working group “Future proofed crops”

EPSO’s Future Proofed Crops Working Group arranged its first workshop on the 13th of July.  PlantLink has four representatives: Siri Caspersen and Anders Carlsson from SLU and Mats Hansson and Olivier Van Aken from Lund University. Presentation of the research areas of the participants showed that the most frequent research theme was abiotic stress resistance, followed by more efficient photosynthesis. The main options for implementing a new European partnership on future-proofing crops were discussed.

8. PlantLink representation at the EPSO General Assembly

Ramesh Vetukuri represented PlantLink at the EPSO annual general assembly in Düsseldorf 28-30 June. Together with Jens Sundström from SLU Uppsala, they also represented the SLUGS network (SLU, LU, Uppsala, Göteborg and Stockholm) in EPSO.

Upon the success of the EPSO Young Plant Scientist Awards (YPSA) 2023 call, the meeting decided to test one annual YPSA call, publishing the YPSA 2024 call on 1.11. 2023. The two awardees will present at the 2024 General Meeting Science Day. Candidates will also be considered for the very popular EPSO Plant Science Online Seminars the next is on the 21st of September.
Next year’s elections to the European Parliament were discussed, and EPSO members were encouraged to develop ideas, questions and suggestions to discuss with MEP candidates to raise awareness for the importance of research and innovation in plant science. EPSO is also gearing up for the Fascination of Plants Day 2024, which, as usual, is May 18!
An overview of the European Infrastructure programme and ongoing activities was presented. The emphasis should be on using the many existing ESFRI projects for plant scientists.
For more information, contact Ramesh Vetukuri!

9. Plant Biologicals Network Annual Symposium, 16 November, Copenhagen

Save the date for this occasion, which will be held on the 16th of November in Copenhagen, Denmark. Sessions will be dedicated to regulation, lab-to-field transactions, end-user/hands-on experiences and hot topics. The deadline for abstract submission is 17 October 2023.

More information and confirmed speakers here.

10. Apply for SASUF course: Applying GIS, Remote Sensing and Hyperspectral Imaging for sustainable urban-rural development and food production

A call to MSc and PhD students at LU and SLU or at any of the 40 SASUF associated universities – Apply for the SASUF online course “Applying GIS, Remote Sensing and Hyperspectral Imaging for sustainable urban-rural development and food production”, corresponding to 7.5 ECTs, 22 Jan-19 Apr 2024.
The deadline for registration is 3 November.

More information and registration

11. 12th SPPS PhD conference “Everything is hard before it gets easy”, 27-29 September, Lund

The main topic of the 12th SPPS PhD Student Conference is the process of doctoral studies. The speakers will cover scientific, formal and personal aspects of being a PhD student. You will be able to discuss your projects in smaller groups, share your experience and ask questions.

More information and registration

12. Horizon Europe Programme 2024, Cluster 6 – overview of calls and topics

There are 75 topics launched in Horizon Europe Programme for 2024 related to Cluster 6 – Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment. The overview of calls and topics can be found here.

All deadlines are in February 2024!

13. Changes in Swedish funding

The Swedish government decided to cut the funding for development research, including both the annual call and the Swedish Research Links, this summer. It affected about a hundred already submitted proposals, which will not be evaluated. The research community was not late to react, and many of the associated PlantLink researchers and researchers at LU and SLU, a total of 606 scientists, signed a petition within a week of the decision. Opinion piece in Aftonbladet 
There have been numerous reactions to the decisions, including the local newspaper Sydsvenskan, which had this unsigned main opinion, clearly in favour of the researchers’ protests against the decision. Nature magazine did a quite good sum-up of the reactions.
SLU Global and SLU Grant Office hosted a special event on how to find new ways for development research on 29th August.
During the summer, Formas also announced that they are revising their annual call and that there will be no new annual call until autumn 2024 (“young researchers” will open in spring 2024 but in a new yet-to-be-announced format). Read more about it here.

14. Two new proposals concerning crops and agriculture from the EU Commission this summer!

The European Commission has proposed making gene-edited plants much easier to study and commercialize. More from Gentekniknämnden here.

The commission also came up with new suggestions on safe pesticide use by specifying their Farm to Fork strategy, which PlantLink-associated researcher Johan Stenberg commented on last week on Swedish radio.

Find out more: SvenskaEnglishTwo new proposals concerning crops and agriculture from the EU Commission this summer!

Who are the winners of ELLS Plant Health Grand Challenges? Congratulations to Jarmila Šimková and Oussama Yahmi! As a prize, the students get conference fees, travel and hotel coverage to attend the International Congress in Plant Pathology in Lyon France. 

Find out more about the winners

15. Upcoming conferences and seminars

International Symposium on Gluten-Free Cereal Products and Beverages
Sign up for the 6th International Symposium on Gluten-Free Cereal Products and Beverages 2023 (GF23), which will take place in Rome from 18 to 20 October 2023. The GF23 is entitled “Gluten-Free Cereal Products and Beverages: Designing Food for Individual Needs and Choices” and aims to bring together scientists and representatives of academia and the industry working in all fields of gluten-free grain products.

More information and registration

Green Biopharmaceuticals: Molecular Farming in Plants, Moss, and Algae – 13-15
Register for a joint conference of the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) Biopharmaceutical and Medical Biotechnology Division, along with Plant, Agriculture and Food Division and the International Society for Plant Molecular Farming (ISPMF). The event will take place on 13-15 November 2023 in Barcelona, Spain.
Deadline for abstract submission and early bird registration: September 5

More information and registration

ISPMF online seminar
International Society for Plant Molecular Farming (ISPMF) is organising an online seminar: “Virus-like Particles (VLPs) made in plants and elsewhere”. The seminar will be held on the 27th of September at 10-11:30 CET. Confirmed speakers:  Professor Nic J. Stonehouse, FRSB FRSA Leeds, Professor Edward P Rybicki, Cape Town and Dr Martin Bachmann, University of Bern.
More information and registration will be shared here

Workshop on Plant Breeding and Forages – 26 September, SLU Umeå
Registration is now open for SLU Grogrund and Regional agricultural research for Northern Sweden (RJN) workshop on September 26, 09:45 am – 3:00 pm, with a focus on plant breeding and forages. 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 on SLU’s university campus in Umeå.
Program and registration

16. Open positions

SLU Alnarp
PhD student position in forest pathology and silviculture
More information

Lund University
Research assistant at the Department of Chemistry
More information

17. Researcher in the Spotlight – Rajni Hatti-Kaul

Rajni Hatti-Kaul is a professor of Biotechnology and Director of the International Master Programme in Biotechnology at the Faculty of Engineering of Lund University. Her research focuses on the development of sustainable solutions using various industrial biotechnology methods. Read the interview!

We would like to use this opportunity to thank Rajni for her representation of LU in PlantLink’s steering committee and her active participation in many of PlantLink’s activities!