Physiological sculpture of plants: new visions and capabilities for crop development

19th New Phytologist Symposium

Grant Awardees

Program, abstracts and participants

To download speaker presentations and meeting photos please click here



In recent years there has been a great expansion of knowledge of genes that influence the regulatory pathways that control organismal properties of adaptive and economic importance, such as vegetative architecture; flowering and fruit characteristics; and tolerance of stresses. The genes identified have encoded a wide variety of functions, including transcription factors; hormones, metabolic enzymes, receptors, and signal transduction factors; regulatory and translocated RNAs; ion transport and homeostasis; and regulators of epigenesis. The goal of this meeting is to discuss this rapidly moving body of knowledge with an eye to future translation, i.e., how the knowledge might be used to create major advances in breeding, biotechnology, and genetic engineering.

By ‘physiological sculpture’ we connote a primary interest in designed modifications to plant properties using knowledge of molecular plant physiology and recombinant DNA methods, rather than importation of simple gene functions or novel pathways from distantly related organisms (i.e., not “GMOs” in the popular sense). It will consider how to improve efficiency, or extend the limits, for phenotype- or marker-based breeding, not to duplicate what breeding can already do well.


Symposium format

The symposium will take place over three days at the glorious setting of Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, Oregon, USA. Invited talks will form the basis of discussion at what will be a relatively small meeting (up to 100 participants). There will also be a poster session and speaker slots for outstanding contributed papers based on submitted abstracts; these will be preferably chosen from early-stage career scientists. We hope this will provide an ideal and informal atmosphere for the stimulation and exchange of ideas.


Speakers’ tasks

There will be a wide variety of speakers with scientific expertise ranging from fundamental cellular/informatic approaches to technological and breeding perspectives. A key goal of this meeting is to get scientists with different perspectives talking, integrating, and synergizing.

Speakers are urged to consider both current opportunities, and to imagine what kinds of new advances might be feasible. Speakers may give examples to illustrate approaches and research of relevance, but should not dwell on their own research. The meeting will not focus on social and regulatory constraints to innovation.

All speakers should consider:

  • Economic, environmental, or humanitarian goals
  • The current and future state of biological knowledge, and associated tools, that are needed to reach these goals
  • The pitfalls and constraints in developing and prioritizing strategies



If you would like to receive further information relating to this meeting please get in touch with Holly Slater (New Phytologist) –

New Phytologist Central Office
Bailrigg House
Lancaster University
LA1 4YE, UK.
Tel: +44 1524 594 691
Fax: +44 1524 594 696