The research of early career scientists (ECR) and their networking were the focus of the conference “Specialized products from plants and microbes – a natural source for biologically active compounds” of DBG’s Natural Products Section. Competently and enthusiastically, the more than twenty participants presented and discussed their research results from the broad field of plant and microbiological compounds. Prof. Dr. Maike Petersen and Prof. Dr. Ute Wittstock summarize topics and research focus of the participants and explain, in which way participants profited from the in-person meeting, which was financially supported by DBG.
Advancement of early career researchers (ECR), opportunities for members to participate in shaping our organisation, workshops for professional development and the topic of outreach into politics and society were just some of the points that were discussed during a workshop of our board meeting. With the moderation of our communicator, Dr. Esther Schwarz-Weig, the participants compiled what excites them about our DBG. They also developed solutions to respond to the challenges that scientific societies face due to changes in research, publishing, science policy, networking and communication. In order to inform everyone about these topics and to enable active participation, there will soon be a digital town hall meeting.
The symposium of our Section Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology took place from 23rd to 26th August 2023 at the University of Gießen in the lecture halls of the Hermann Hoffmann Academy. Altogether 94 scientists participated (only 4 last-minute cancellations), 34 of them students. With two international keynote speakers the organizers Prof. Dr. Volker Wissemann, Prof. Dr. Elvira Hörandl, Dr. Anže Žerdoner Čalasan, and Dr. Natalia Tkach welcomed a European audience; with most participants from Germany. The programme encompassed 19 talks and 21 posters from students. Gender balance was a 2:2 male:female ratio with the invited keynote speakers, and 17 female compared to 13 male speakers, reflecting a strong presence of females at early career stages in systematics. Elvira Hörandl summarizes the scientific highlights, names the awardees and reports about the Section’s meeting and elections.
On the 6th and 7th July, over 50 scientists came together at Kiel University for the Kiel Plant Centre (KPC) Workshop on Plant Evolution with a particular focus on the adaptation of plants to terrestrial environments. The program, that included keynote talks from international experts, short talks from early career scientists as well as two poster sessions, covered a broad variety of topics encouraging lively discussions and exchange. Organiser Prof. Dr. Birgit Classen summarizes the topics of the workshop and this research discipline and reports why basic research on the adaptions of living on land Millions of years ago is also important for current and applied questions.
More than 50 researchers met in Leipzig, including many early-career researchers, and discussed plant physiology themes. They presented their research topics and gained feedback as well as inspiration from experts from related research disciplines. The topics covered a wide range of organism groups from unicellular cyanobacteria and microalgae to vascular plants. Although most of the presentations dealt with basic research, the presentations from applied disciplines were the liveliest. Dr. Raimund Nagel and Dr. Torsten Jakob from the organisational team led by Prof. Dr. Severin Sasso describe the conference, the specific topics of the presentations and the ways in which early career researchers benefited from the DBG-funded conference.
Several dozens of scientists from more than ten countries met in June in Halle (Saale), Germany, to discuss latest findings on plant cytoskeleton research. Organiser Katharina Bürstenbinder reports about the current research topics in this field, the awarded presentations and in which way the many participating early career scientists profited in this meeting that was supported by our DBG.
The Plant Science Student Conference took place at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK) Gatersleben on 3rd and 4th of July 2023. Since 2019 this years’ conference was first time held again in person. Organisation and outline of the 18th PSSC was done by IPK’s doctoral candidates with the focus to improve networking with doctoral candidates from Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB) Halle and Cluster of Excellence on Plant Sciences (CEPLAS) as well as with students from other institutes. Overall, 100 participants - nearly all of them PhD-candidates - registered and attended. Together with invited speakers as Wilma van Esse (Wageningen), Tobias Züst (Zurich), Cathy Westhues (Göttingen) and Elliot Heffner (Corteva R&D) everyone enjoyed a warm and positive atmosphere on site.
The concept of the conference was to combine impulses from leading scientists with insights in students’ research and workshops to improve soft and hard skills. The presence of representatives of our sponsoring partners at site offered also the chance to discuss recent research topics with representatives from industry. Stephanie Frohn reports the scientific topics in more detail.
The Wilhelm Pfeffer Foundation of our German Society for Plant Sciences (DBG) awards Dr. Prathiba Kumari the Prize for the best plant science publication, which is endowed with 1,000 Euros. "In the published work, Dr. Kumari has identified a class of proteins that govern the correct positioning of the cell plate during cytokinesis and thus play a key role in plant cell division”, the board of the foundation explains its decision. These IQD proteins are linked to the cytoskeleton of plant cells and are part of a navigation system that coordinates the spatial control of cell division. Consequently, plants lacking these IQD proteins display chaotically arranged plant cells. With her article published in the journal Nature Plants (IQ67 DOMAIN proteins facilitate preprophase band formation and division-plane orientation DOI: 10.1038/s41477-021-00923-z), Dr. Kumari from the working group of Dr. Katharina Bürstenbinder from the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry in Halle, Germany, has significantly expanded our understanding of cell division in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and thus of plant growth and development. Dr. Kumari, who is currently conducting plant research as a PostDoc at the Umeå Plant Science Centre at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), will be awarded the certificate in 2024 at the next International Conference of our German Society for Plant Sciences in Halle, Germany; the plant scientist already received the prize money by now.
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Im Winter verstarb Professor Alfermann, eines der Gründungsmitglieder unserer Sektion Pflanzliche Naturstoffe. In ihrem Nachruf erinnert Prof. Dr. Maike Petersen nicht nur an einen Pionier der Produktion medizinischer Wirkstoffe für das Herz und gegen Krebs und einen Erforscher pflanzlicher Biosynthesewege, sondern auch an einen herzlichen Menschen: Alfermann hatte stets ein offenes Ohr und förderte viele junge Wissenschaftler*innen. An seinem Institut an der Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf entstanden so zahlreiche Freundschaften und sogar Ehen.
The 20th scientific meeting of the Phycology Section took place from March 12 to 15, 2023 in the Rosensäle in Jena. Prof. Dr. Maria Mittag and PD. Dr. Volker Wagner organized the meeting, for which 91 algal researchers registered. They presented and discussed up to date topics of phycology. Maria Mittag, chair of the Phycology Section, welcomed all participants on the first day and presented the topics of the individual Sessions of the Meeting. She acknowledged the following institutions on behalf of the Section for their support: the German Society for Plant Sciences, Friedrich Schiller University Jena with its Cluster of Excellence Balance of the Microverse, as well as the companies (in alphabetic order) Agrisera, New England Biolabs, Walz and Zeiss. Maria Mittag mentions the topics of the meeting in her Report and describes the price for high school students under the theme „Shaping the Future with Algae“, which was awarded for the second time. She reports about further prices for students including PhD students as well as about the Pringsheim price awarded for the best presentation of a PhD thesis. Finally, she reports about the von Stosch Award presented to an outstanding phycologist who enthused the audience with his critical questions about photosynthesis and phycology and inspired the people with a poem on evolution.
In the first in person meeting after the Covid-19 pandemic plant scientists discussed recent research results in Hennef from 6th to 9th February. In his report, main organizer Professor Andreas Meyer (Bonn) not only names the early career scientists who received science awards, the market place for ideas this conference provided, reports who won the soccer match between students and principal investigators but also describes the diverse audience. His report of the meeting of our Section Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology (SPPMB) also offers several photos of the meeting and proposes a tasty diet for future astronauts.
In 2022 DBG has awarded 15 early career plant scientists and their outstanding master theses. The diverse range of topics included research results that were published in a Nature article. The many topics covered: nickel resistance in a Noccaea caerulescens infecting pathogene, genetic markers to identify the alga Pantocsekiella, ER-tonoplast membrane contact sites, whether some endemic Euphorbia species resulted from polyploidisation, Glyoxalase I among Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes, how Galium wirtgenii adapts to restored meadows, how heat and nitrogen amounts influence growth and development of potato plants, invention of an in vivo NADH/NAD+-monitoring system in pattern-triggered immune response, how N-deficiency in Helianthus annuus induces UV-screening compounds, a new electro-physiologic method to characterize the PIN-FORMED8 transport protein, how stomatal morphology impacts gas exchange, transcriptional control of photosynthetic gene expression, how lipids regulate the membrane-actin interface in polar growing plant cells, antibacterial gene silencing approaches, as well as mesofauna biodiversity in tree cavity habitats.
The DBG warmly congratulates the successful award winners and thanks the contact persons who managed the selection process at the individual universities and handed over the certificates.
Names of the awardees and contents of awarded theses
Since the first of January, Prof. Dr. Edgar Peiter takes over his office as member of our extended board from Prof. Dr. Andreas Meyer. Peiter, Professor of Plant Nutrition at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, was elected unanimously during the last Botanik-Tagung in Bonn in August and will organize our upcoming Botanik-Tagung, International Conference of the German Society for Plant Sciences, in Halle, Germany, 2024. All other members of our executive and extended board had been confirmed in their positions during our general assembly.
Read more details on the election