From 17th to 19th September 155 participants including 40 from abroad met at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany, to discuss latest progress in evolution, speciation, dispersal biology, ontogeny, plant ecology and population history, data sharing, legal regulations of research, as well as plant conservation strategies. The advantages and techniques of Next Generation Sequencing were thoroughly discussed and promising young scientists were awarded with prices. A congress Report by Professor Joachim W. Kadereit
The International Symposium of the Section 'Biodiversity and Evolution' of the German Botanical Society took place at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany, following the invitation by the Institut für Spezielle Botanik und Botanischer Garten. The meeting was attended by 155 paying participants including 40 colleagues from abroad, plus the organisers from Mainz.
Topics and Symposia
The meeting was divided into 10 symposia with altogether 66 oral presentations and 85 posters :
- Evolution of mountain floras
- Evolution of tropical floras
- Evolution of Mediterranean and arid floras
- Mechanisms of speciation
- Pollination and dispersal biology
- Ontogeny: from meristems to phenotypic diversity
- Next generation sequencing in plant systematics and evolution
- Evolution, ecology and population history of model plants
- two open symposia covering diverse topics
In addition to these symposia, three plenary lectures of general interest and relevance for the research work of plant systematists, phylogenetists and evolutionary biologists were delivered:
- B. Gemeinholzer, Gießen: Accessing and sharing biodiversity data - the next generation research
- E. Beck, Bayreuth : (Why) Do we need legal regulations for biodiversity research?
- H. Hurka, Osnabrück: Ex situ plant conservation strategies - pros and cons
The meeting was followed by a workshop with 13 participants from 7 countries organised by R. Claßen-Bockhoff, Mainz, which was entitled "How to deal with inflorescenes in systematics and floral ecology?"
The choice of symposia was guided by the effort to place plant systematic, phylogenetic and evolutionary research into a geographical, ecological and historical context, and to emphasize the continued importance of the organismal phenotype, its development and its biology. The many positive comments on the meeting by participants clearly showed that this effort was successful.
Next Generation Sequencing will Gain Ground
As in all other areas of biology, Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) is gaining increasing importance in phylogenetic and evolutionary research. Accordingly, one symposium was devoted to this topic, and introduced by two invited speakers who presented an introduction to NGS technology (T. Hankeln, Mainz, Germany) and first results from diverse research projects (A. Liston, Corvallis, Oregon), respectively. A spontaneous census showed that only a small minority of participants has already started applying these new techniques. As the symposium could convincingly show that NGS is manageable and leads to good results, it is hoped that many participants will feel encouraged to adopt this now tool for their research.
Young Researchers Awarded
Financial support of the meeting by the DBG was used for awards of 300 € each to young researchers. The award winners were Eliane Furrer, Zürich (oral presentation), Simon Pfanzelt, Oldenburg (oral presentation), Eileen Wasner, Mainz (poster) and Xin Zhang, Bochum (poster).