News Release

Plant Biology 2023 plenary closeup: From climate challenges come opportunities

ASPB's annual conference tackles global issues

Meeting Announcement

American Society of Plant Biologists

“Climate change is not a future problem anymore. As soon as 2030, it will impact our crops,” cautions initial plenary convener Amanda Pereira De Souza of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. “Still, I’m excited about the advances that will come with the challenge of finding solutions for this problem.” 

Jeremy Shears of Shell Research Limited adds, “There are huge opportunities to increase food productivity, restore soil fertility and sequester carbon using agricultural systems.” Nora Lapitan of the USDA Agricultural Research Service agrees. “Through scientific innovations and ingenuity, scientists can make a real difference in ensuring agricultural productivity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture,” she says. 

On Monday, August 7, at 9:00 am, Lapitan and Shears will examine some of the many ways plant scientists can help address threats in the plenary “Climate Change and the Future of Agriculture.” They will be joined by James Marshall Shepherd of the University of Georgia, an expert on weather, climate and the intersections of atmospheric sciences with society, and Amanda Cavanagh of the University of Essex, who studies photosynthesis and climate change.

This is a dynamic area of inquiry, and the speakers are ready to highlight imminent advances. “New tools and technologies are unlocking our understanding,” says Shears, “ranging from remote digital measurement of biomass and carbon flux to rapid DNA sequencing, which is revealing the critical role of the soil microbiome in stabilizing carbon.” 

“I expect we’ll soon be able to translate discoveries to different soybean cultivars, as well as other species,” says De Souza. 

“What I’m seeing is a greater emphasis on the use of big data and artificial intelligence, along with genome editing, to accelerate the development of crops that are resilient and contribute to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture,” says Lapitan. 

“At Shell, along with our customers, we’re working on solutions spanning bioenergy, agricultural ecosystems such as carbon sinks, and sustainable cropping practices,” says Shears. As examples, he named innovative rice cultivation practices, technology enabling regenerative grazing, and soil amendments like biochar as an agent for natural greenhouse gas sequestration. 

“I’m very passionate about efforts like these that apply research,” says Lapitan. “And I’m excited about networking with everyone who will be at Plant Biology 2023. It’s truly a privilege to spend a few days with leading thinkers in plant biology.” 

“I’m looking forward to meeting the researchers and innovators who are driving the global transformation toward climate-smart agriculture practices,” says Shears. “It’s only by working together that we will be successful!” 

Read the full plenary description, and see more scientific content in the complete Plant Biology 2023 program

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