17th Sep 2014

GARNet 2014, Arabidopsis: The Ongoing Green Revolution, took place on 9 and 10 September 2014 at the University of Bristol. The programme and abstracts from the talks and poster presentations can be viewed in this PDF, and there are some pictures from the conference on our blog, Weeding the Gems.

GARNet Chair Jim Murray (University of Cardiff) opened the conference with an exciting announcement: BBSRC will continue to fund GARNet until 2020.

The themes of the conference were Physiology and Productivity, Genome Biology, Natural Variation, Systems Biology and Plant Interactions with their environment. The speakers in each theme gave excellent talks, introducing their subjects briefly before outlining their past, recent and cutting-edge research. Special mention has to be made of the early career researchers, selected from the abstract submissions, who presented their work with flair and enthusiasm. 

Each session ended with 15 minutes of discussion led by the speakers. Much of the talk in the Physiology and Productivity and Plant Interactions discussions centred on linking work in the artificial laboratory environment to the field, an important issue in bridging the genotype to phenotype gap and making an impact on agricultural productivity.

In the second panel discussion of the conference, the challenge of doing hypothesis-driven research in 'big data' biology was raised, while delegates and speakers alike were encouraged to share resources and methods developed in their labs. The Natural Variation panel discussed the appropriateness of Arabidopsis thaliana as a model for natural variation research, agreeing that due to its broad natural habitat and extensive genetic resources it is a good starting point.

In the Systems Biology discussion, both speakers and delegates commented on the need for a community effort to develop a truly multiscale 'digital plant,' and the role synthetic biology approaches will play in this.

Thanks to our invited speakers Javier Agusti (University of Oxford), Leah Band (University of Nottingham), Siobhan Braybrook (Sainsbury Laboratory Cambridge), Adrian Brennan (University of Durham), Antony Dodd (University of Bristol), Kerry Franklin (University of Bristol), Miriam Gifford (University of Warwick), Ian Henderson (University of Cambridge), Steve Penfield (University of Exeter) and Cyril Zipfel (The Sainsbury Laboratory); and to our early career speakers Sophie Berckhan (University of Nottingham), Emily Hawkes (John Innes Centre), Matthew Hindle (University of Edinburgh), Beatriz Lagunas (University of Warwick) and Monika Mierzwińska (University of Aberdeen).

Special thanks must go to our plenary speakers Siobhan Brady (UC Davis), Alistair Hetherington (University of Bristol), Maarten Koornneef (MPIPZ), Andrew Millar (University of Edinburgh) and Paul Schulze-Lefert (MPIPZ).

Finally, thank you to our sponsors: Agrisera/Newmarket Scientific, Berthold Technologies, BMG Labtech, the Journal of Experimental Botany, New England BioLabs, LabLogic, LemnaTec, Plant Methods, The Royal Society and Weiss Technik.