Actualia · Tagungsbericht

Workshop Plant Evolution: chances and challenges in a changing world

Ein Teil der Teilnehmenden kam vor dem Veranstaltungsgebäude zusammen, dem Zentrum für molekulare Biowissenschaften (ZMB) der Universität Kiel: Foto: Foto: Rosemary Wilson
Prof. Birgit Classen welcomed the participants and opened the meeting. Photo: Rosemary Wilson
Audience with junior researchers and senior scientists. Photo: Rosemary Wilson
Prof. Susann Wicke (Humboldt University of Berlin) during her talk on evolution of plastids. Photo: Rosemary Wilson
At the first day, 19 posters designed by Mona Schreiber (University of Marburg) with support of Sven Gould (University of Düsseldorf) and other members of the DFG priority program molecular adaptation to life on land (MAdLand) were shown. The posters start with the Big Bang, deal with first life on earth, the way of streptophyte algae from water to land, introduce the main characteristics of bryophytes and ferns but also show the achievements of important scientists like Alexander von Humboldt and different female botanists. Photo: Rosemary Wilson
Topics of the meeting were discussed in the evening in the Mediterranean greenhouse. Photo: Rosemary Wilson
Prof. Thorsten Reusch gave an oral presentation about seagrasses. MAdLand postdoc Dr. Lukas Pfeifer in the background was responsible for technical support. Photo: Rosemary Wilson
Prof. Berit Ebert and PhD student Kim-Kristine Mueller discussing research results during the poster session. Photo: Rosemary Wilson

Am 6. und 7. Juli kamen mehr als 50 Forschende am Kieler Zentrum für Pflanzenwissenschaften zusammen zum Workshop Evolution der Pflanzen mit besonderem Augenmerk auf die Anpassungen von Pflanzen an die Landlebensweise. Das Programm mit Keynotes internationaler Expert*innen, Kurzvorträgen von Forschenden im frühen Karrierestadium sowie zwei Poster-Sessions deckte ein breites Spektrum an Themen ab und regte zu lebhaften Diskussionen und Austausch an. Organisatorin Prof. Dr. Birgit Classen fasst die Themen des Workshops und der Forschungsdisziplin in Englisch zusammen und berichtet, warum Grundlagenforschung zu den Anpassungen an das Landleben vor Millionen von Jahren auch für aktuelle und angewandte Fragestellungen wichtig ist.

"With our wide variety of different topics and disciplines, we wanted to share our experiences and knowledge of plant evolution and discuss how we can more intensively explore and better understand its impacts in the context of global change in the future" said KPC member and workshop organiser Prof. Birgit Classen.

Evolution of the way of living on land

The event was co-sponsored by the DFG priority program MAdLand, of which Prof. Classen and her group are members. Coordinated by Prof. Stefan Rensing (University of Freiburg), participating researchers of the MAdLand initiative study the transition of plant life from water to land. Around 500 million years ago, this represented a major event in the evolution of plants and kick-started an explosion in plant diversity, resulting in a variety of mechanisms and processes equipping plants for life on land. The discussion reflected that the two hypotheses that freshwater streptophyte algae were pre-adapted to life on land or that streptophyte algae were terrestrial from the beginning and returned to freshwater are still under debate.

"Research into the origins of land plants also allows valuable conclusions to be drawn about today's plant species and their ability to adapt to environmental changes in the present," emphasized Dr. Lukas Pfeifer, MAdLand postdoc in Prof. Classen’s research group.

A centre piece of the first day was a series of nineteen posters designed by scientist and illustrator Mona Schreiber (University of Marburg) in the framework of the MAdLand program visually explaining the evolution of plants. The topics of the keynote and short talks and poster titles can be seen in the programme (pdf).

Algae, seagrasses and crops

At the second day, the meeting focussed especially on marine organisms (brown algae and seagrasses) as well as on crop plants necessary for human nutrition. This was accompanied by scientific posters of young researchers. Five junior scientists who gave talks received travel grants by the DBG, our German Society for Plant Sciences.

Other highlights of the workshop included an evening get-together in the University Botanical Gardens with food and drinks.

“We are really proud to have welcomed so many plant scientists to Kiel for this event” concluded workshop co-organiser and KPC spokesperson Prof. Eva Stukenbrock. “A more comprehensive understanding of how plants adapted to new environments and conditions in the past is crucial as we tackle issues such as maintaining food security and crop health in times of global change. There is a lot of great plant science being done in Kiel and it was fantastic to experience the lively exchange between participants across disciplines.”


In August 2023

Prof. Dr. Birgit Classen, University of Kiel, Kiel Plant Centre, Kiel Plant Glycan Group