Global Plant Council E-Bulletin December 2020

E-Bulletin / 
December 2020

Dear plant science enthusiast,

Welcome to our December 2020 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 November, 21 new breaking plant science related news stories were posted on the GPC website including...

New Technology Accelerates Crop Improvement with CRISPR
Researchers know how to make precise genetic changes within the genomes of crops, but the transformed cells often refuse to grow into plants. One team has devised a new solution.

Plant vir­uses hi­jack the de­fence sys­tem of plants, but re­search­ers may be able to find a way to strike back
Recently discovered interactions between plant and viral proteins open up new avenues for making plants resistant to viruses, thus safeguarding crop yields in changing climate conditions.

Comprehensive and systematic evaluation of ~22,000 wheat accessions
The national wheat improvement program in India has contributed significantly toward achieving food security since the advent of the green revolution in the 1960s. However, for the sustainable wheat production in this era of climate change, high yielding thermo-tolerant varieties with durable disease resistance, and with the capacity to produce more with less of water and fertilizers are urgently needed.  Recently, the first  study conducted on comprehensive and systematic evaluation of  ~22,000 accessions of wheat  was published.

Study Finds ‘Missing Link’ in the Evolutionary History of Carbon-Fixing Protein Rubisco
Researchers identify a unique version of a photosynthetic enzyme that has been in use for billions of years. A team of scientists has discovered an ancient form of rubisco, the most abundant enzyme on Earth and critical to life as we know it. Found in previously unknown environmental microbes, the newly identified rubisco provides insight into the evolution of the photosynthetic organisms that underlie the planet’s food chains.

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

On the blog / 
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Plant scientists need to urgently reconcile their open access needs with the benefit-sharing rights associated with plant material by Ros Gleadow, Brad Sherman and Robert Henry

Many plant scientists rely on open access to information such as DNA sequence data to do their work. They are probably also aware of obligations to respect access and benefit sharing (ABS) rights under the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (The Treaty) and maybe the Nagoya Protocols on Access and Benefit Sharing.  These arrangements have long been understood to cover the actual biological material (the plant) but international moves to extend these agreements to include associated data such as digital DNA sequence information (DSI) may impact more directly on the activities of plant scientists (Marden, 2018). 

Reconciling the importance of ongoing open access to sequence data that many see as critical to advancing science and protection of the legitimate rights of countries and traditional owners of biological resources is challenging. The issues are complex and vary depending upon the laws in each country, when and where plants are sourced and the particular plant species.  Historical collections, such as those in seed banks or gene banks, may be especially difficult to use as it may be impossible to satisfy the needs for prior informed consent for material collected a long time ago (Sherman and Henry, 2020).

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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 25th December 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, 37 events are published in our events calendar.

Journal of Experimental Botany 70th Anniversary Symposium
10 December 2020. Online.

Launch Event – International Year of Fruits and Vegetables
15 December 2020. Online.

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.

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 Architecture and Plasticity" Focus Issue Call for Papers by "Plant Physiology"
This Focus Issue will consider topics ranging from plant development to (plasticity of) architecture, in the context of the organism and its interactions with a dynamic and challenging environment. Contributions might include studies on regulation of shoot or root development and/or architecture, responses of plant development and architecture to include, for example, light, water, nutrients, temperature and (a)biotic stress. Submission Deadline: January 8, 2021.

"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: 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 United Nations  declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (#IYPH2020). IYPH2020 is a once in a lifetime opportunity to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development. 

At GPC we have a devoted IYPH2020 section where you will find news connected with plant health.

Are you organizing an IYPH2020 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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