Global Plant Council E-Bulletin January 2021

E-Bulletin / 
January 2021

Dear plant science enthusiast,

Welcome to our January 2021 newsletter on plant science!

This past month we shared 21 plant science-related breaking stories. Find below a selection of those along with approaching events, some open calls for papers and other useful information.


Latest News / 
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In December, 21 new breaking plant science related news stories were posted on the GPC website including...

Can We Harness A Plant’s Ability To Synthesize Medicinal Compounds? Anthraquinones are a class of naturally occurring compounds prized for their medicinal properties. New work reveals a gene responsible for anthraquinone synthesis in plants. These findings could help scientists cultivate a plant-based mechanism for harvesting these compounds in bulk quantities.

Tweaking carotenoid genes helps tomatoes bring their a-game. A new research shows that modern gene editing techniques can help tomato breeders introduce diversity and improve the nutrition and environmental impact of tomato crops.

Plants on Aspirin. For centuries humans were using willow barks to treat a headache or an inflamed tooth. Later, the active ingredient, the plant hormone salicylic acid, was used to develop painkillers like Aspirin. But what happens, if plants are treated with these painkillers? By doing so, scientists discovered an unexpected bioactivity of human pharmaceuticals in plants.

If you have news you would like us to share on our website, please contact 

On the blog / 
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Best wishes for a less virus-ridden 2021 by Ros Gleadow

We are in the middle of a pandemic, but the experience is different for everyone. This was expressed beautifully in an original tweet by Damian Barr, later expanded by another author into a poem "We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.

Even on the scale of Board members of the GPC, the impact varies widely.

As scientists, some of us have been able to continue with our research or use the lockdowns to write papers. Others are so overwhelmed with carer responsibilities or depression that they have been unable to deliver anything much. Women especially have borne the brunt of the homeschooling, and there is some evidence for a massive drop off in their productivity.

I encourage you to remember this in 5 or 10 years when conducting job interviews – it won’t be just publications from 2020 that will be affected, but citations, and other metrics that are reliant on continuous productivity. Whether or not we should use such measures is a different debate.

In many countries, there has been a renewed appreciation of parks and gardens, nature, and botanic gardens. There’s even been a boom in indoor plant sales!

This is a chance for us, as plant scientists, to make the world aware of the importance of plants and plant science. I summed up some of these thoughts in a blog a few months ago. And also in the talk, I addressed at the ISCRAES conference in Dublin (virtually of course). It seems absurd that we need to remind people that we all need plants and nature, but there are so many competing demands for money and attention, we need to remain vigilant.

One upside from this year has been the discovery, for me anyway, that apart from lab work, I can do pretty much everything from my desk. I don’t think we will ever go back to flying around the world for business meetings alone. Virtual conferences work, although I miss the personal contacts and experiencing different cultures – something that is important for people like me from Australia, which is so far away.

In closing, I would just like to thank the Board for their work this year, especially treasurer Deena Errampalli, the new chair Francisca Blanco and Past-President Bill Davies who continues to give sage advice. I’d also like to give a big shout-out to Chief Communications Officer Isabel Mendoza who does an amazing job, writing stories and papers for dissemination, maintaining the website, organizing meetings, liaising with members and sponsors, and so on. Thank you!

Season’s greetings to you all, and best wishes for a less virus-ridden 2021!

Click for reading this post on the blog here.


The Global Plant Council Statement for 2020-2021

Would you like to contribute an article to the GPC's blog? Please get in touch! Email

ECRi /


ECRi is a collection of activities addressed to help the ECRs with 4 essential matters: job hunting, grant funding, dissemination of research results and networking.

Job hunting:  We post daily opportunities on our Facebook and Linkedin groups. Next #plantscijobs Twitterstorm will take place on the 29th January between 3 and 4 pm CET.

The latest on the ECRi network is published in the GPC website here. Additionally, sign-up to our bi-monthly ECRi newsletter.

Are you an ECRs? Currently involved in plant science research?  Let us help you reach a wider audience! Learn how here.

Events / 
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We have reviewed all of the following, but please, make sure to confirm with the event organizers.

Currently, 42 events are published in our events calendar.

Intercropping for Sustainability
19-20 January 2021. Online.

Legal frameworks for research and innovation with plant genetic resources
25-29 January 2021. Alnarp, Sweden.

Our Plants, Our Future
11-12 February 2021. Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace, London, UK.

Monogram Network Meeting 2021
27-29 April 2021. Dundee, United Kingdom.

Plant Biology Europe 2021
28 June-1 July 2021. Online.

The 31st International Conference on Arabidopsis Research (ICAR)
21–25 June 2021. Seatle, WA, United States.

26th International Conference on Sexual Plant Reproduction
21–25 June 2021. Prague, Czech Republic.


If you have a conference, meeting, workshop, training course or other event coming up, we can include it in our Events calendar! Please email

Calls for papers /


"Focus Issue on Transport and Signaling" Focus Issue Call for Papers by "Plant Physiology"
This Focus Issue will highlight the recent advances in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind membrane transport, its integration with signaling, and its roles in homeostasis. A selection of Update Reviews, included within the Issue, will address new and transformative insights that are driving research beyond the traditional boundaries of transport physiology. We encourage submissions that address quantitative frameworks in understanding membrane transport, transport proteins, and the integration of transport and signaling across scales. Submission deadline: March 8, 2021.

Want to share a call for papers we've missed? Please tell us about it by emailing

Funding Opportunities/

- European Research Council Grant Calls for 2021 and 2022 are now public. Briefly:

  • ERC Starting Grant.  These grants are for researchers with 2-7 years of experience since the completion of their PhD, a scientific track record showing great promise and an excellent research proposal. Opens 12th January 2021
  • ERC Consolidator Grant. These grants are for researchers with 7-12 years of experience since completion of PhD, a scientific track record showing great promise and an excellent research proposal. Opens 21st January 2021.
  • ERC Advanced Grant. These grants are for active researchers with a track-record of significant research achievements in the last 10 years. Opens 20th May 2021
  • ERC Proof of Concept. These grants are for researchers who have already received an ERC grant for their frontier research project and now want to explore the commercial or societal potential of it. Opens 14th January 2021
  • ERC Synergy Grant. These grants are for two to maximum four researchers working together and bringing different skills and resources to tackle ambitious research problems. Opens in 2022

- Horizon 2020 Call: Restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services. The EU Commision released a call for proposals on the 22nd of September. Actions are expected to demonstrate how transformational change through ecosystem restoration delivers at large scale, delivering first visible results and examples on land and at sea by 2024, with benefits increasing in the long-term. The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 16 and 25 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. Funding rates in the 70-100% range. All details here.   Deadline: 26th January 2021.

- The Plant Biotic Interactions (PBI) program supports research on the processes that mediate beneficial and antagonistic interactions between plants and their viral, bacterial, oomycete, fungal, plant, and invertebrate symbionts, pathogens and pests. This joint NSF/NIFA program supports projects focused on current and emerging model and non-model systems, and agriculturally relevant plants. Funding rates in the >30% range.  Full Proposals Accepted Anytime.

- Funding Opportunity: AFRI Releases RFA for Foundational and Applied Science Program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released a request for applications for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Foundational and Applied Science (FAS) program. During the fiscal years 2021 and 2022  AFRI will distribute approximately $290 million per year. AFRI has numerous program area priorities and each program area priority has its own deadline(s). Please, check them here.


UK Sustainable food production: apply for grants and investment
Businesses can apply for a share of £5 million and support from investors to fast-track projects that help food production achieve net zero emissions.
Closes: TODAY, 13 January 2021


You are invited to check the grant ECRi devoted section and our Resources section for more on funding opportunities.

Spotted a funding opportunity we've missed? Please tell us about it by emailing

The UN General Assembly designated 2021 the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV). The IYFV2021 is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health and as well in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Are you organizing an IYFV2021 activity? Please tell us about it by emailing

Members / 

Click here for details of the GPC Member Societies and their representatives. 

Please contact us ( to find out how your organization can join the Global Plant Council. 

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