The European Plant Cytoskeletal Club (EPCC) held its 8th annual meeting in Halle (Saale), Germany, on June 28 and 29, 2023. The EPCC is a unique gathering that focuses on plant cytoskeleton research, providing a platform for researchers to share their work and collaborate in this specialized field. This year’s meeting, organized by Katharina Bürstenbinder’s laboratory at the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry, brought together over 60 scientists from eleven European countries. With a focus on plant cytoskeleton research, the conference featured thematic lecture sessions, poster presentations, and networking opportunities. These networking opportunities were particularly valuable, as they allowed for interactions and exchanges between early career researchers (approximately 70% of the participants were undergraduates, PhD students, and early career postdoctoral scientists) with established senior scientists in the field of plant cytoskeleton research.
Current cytoskeletal research topics
The topics covered in the presentations reflected the diversity of research in the plant cytoskeleton field. One of the key areas of focus was plant cell division. The lectures explored the molecular mechanisms and molecules associated with plant cytokinesis, as well as the relationship between the cytoskeletal apparatus and membranes. The importance of understanding how the cell plate fuses with the mother cell walls and its impact on the future shape of the cell and tissue was emphasized. Another area of research discussed at the conference was cell wall synthesis and plant growth regulation. The cytoskeleton plays a crucial role in influencing cell wall synthesis, and the lectures highlighted the significance of microtubules in this process. The talks delved into the control mechanisms that ensure the maintenance of cellulose synthesis and the role of actin nucleators in cell wall deposition. Molecular motors and their role in cellular organization and stress responses were also explored during the conference. The lectures covered various roles of molecular motors in plants, such as cold sensing, responses to plant hormones, and control of organelle movement. The speakers also discussed the plant cytoskeleton's role in responding to abiotic and biotic stress and its importance in plant defense mechanisms. In addition, the conference also featured presentations on interdisciplinary approaches in plant cytoskeleton research. These talks emphasized the incorporation of mathematical and biophysical models in understanding cytoskeleton function. The integration of these disciplines holds great potential for unraveling the intricate mechanisms related to the regulation of plant cytoskeleton functions. The titles of the twelve oral presentations can be studied in detail in the programme (pdf).
Best talk and best poster prize
The EPCC meeting also recognized outstanding contributions through a competition for the best student lecture and poster presentations. Shu Yao Leong from Tübingen University won the best presentation award for her lecture on "The C-terminus of the Phragmoplast Orienting Kinesin 2 binds microtubules and lipids", while Annemarie Bok from Wageningen University and Research was awarded the best poster prize for her work on " The hunt for actin binding catch bonds in walled cells ".
Overall, the EPCC 2023 meeting was a successful event that enriched the European plant cytoskeleton research community. The conference provided a valuable platform for exchanging knowledge, fostering collaborations, and advancing the understanding of the plant cytoskeleton. The upcoming EPCC conference, scheduled for June 2024, will be held in the beautiful city of Prague. The organizing committee is looking forward to an even larger gathering of enthusiastic plant cytoskeleton researchers.
In July 2023
Dr. Katharina Bürstenbinder, Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie (IPB), Cellular Coordination