The 34th Europe-wide seminar of the series supported by the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO) and aimed at the Plant Science community and its stakeholders.

TTT: The seminar will be held online each third Thursday of the month at three (CET).  

On 20th June 2024 at 15:00 (CET) we will present three talks exploring “The latest in bio-pharming”

Audrey Teh, University of London, UK:  

Killer to Cure: Tobacco plant-derived recombinant therapeutics for cancer and infectious disease”

 

 

Marc-André D’Aoust, Aramis Biotechnologies, Canada: 

Successes and challenges of advancing plant products to commercialization”

 

 

Johannes Buyel, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Austria:  

Modeling and scaling of downstream unit operations for plant molecular farming

 

 

The seminars will be hosted on Zoom and last approximately 1.5 hours. Numbers will be limited to 300 attendees and therefore please register early if you would like to join. There will be ample opportunities to ask questions and join the debate. So please join us to support this new and exciting initiative for European Plant Science by following this link just prior to the start of the seminar.

EPSO members register in advance for this meeting via this Zoom link.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

In the coming months we will be on the lookout for talented plant scientists among the EPSO membership to present their findings and perspectives to the EPSO seminar series. If we approach you to talk, we hope you will be happy to support the initiative. This is a fantastic opportunity for both eminent world leaders and talented up-and-coming early career researchers to present their research to an international audience and to network with potential collaborators. If you wish to suggest a theme for one of the upcoming seminars and / or nominate yourself or one of your colleagues to give a seminar, we most welcome your suggestions. Please contact Tim George ([email protected]) to provide your name and potential talk title.

We look forward to seeing you all for the 34th EPSO seminar on the 20th June 2024.

Tim George, Alan Schulman and Marie-Theres Hauser

EPSO Plant Science Seminar Series Organising Committee 

Click here to read: Full EPSO news item 

Contacts:

Tim George, Hutton / UK & EPSO Board

Alan Schulman, LUKE / FI & Adviser EPSO Board

Marie-Theres Hauser BOKU / AT & EPSO Board

EPSO welcomes the European Commission’s Horizon Europe Draft Orientations towards Work Programme 2025. For plant scientists, most relevant is cluster 6 on Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture & Environment and the Soil Mission.

In general, the draft orientations Work Programme 2025 are lagging behind the Strategic Plan 2025-27 and EPSO provided in its submission suggestions about how to address this.

For the Biodiversity destination, the “increase of agrobiodiversity – e.g. by supporting R&I on niche, underutilised and novel crops” are not yet considered as main expected outcomes. Cultivated biodiversity or agrobiodiversity is still underestimated in the draft orientations as a contributor to biodiversity.

Similarly, crop improvement and crop management can equally contribute to biodiversity and need to be supported at critical mass.

Regarding the Food Systems destination, the EC refers to ‘Ensuring healthy food and nutrition security …. In the Strategic Plan, crop improvement and adaptation is one path towards food and nutrition security, whereas this is not spelled out yet in the draft orientations.

Likewise, the agricultural primary sector should contribute comprehensively not only to sustainability, but at the same time to food and nutritional security via sufficient and nutritious food with macro-and micronutrients.

Contributions anticipated in the Strategic Plan should be included in the expected outcomes of the Orientations, such as “Key research areas for agriculture will include mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, fostering plant and animal breeding and conserving and improving the use of genetic resources (including the use of new technologies).”, “address crop diversification, improvement and adaptation”, “bolster plant health… leverage the potential of protein crops and underutilised crops.”

EPSO suggests major improvements to the Soil Mission: soils don’t exist without plants, or the ecosystems of which plants are the foundation organisms in both natural and agroecosystems. This interaction between plants and soils and soil health, should be added in the Orientations. Adding contributions from plant science and plant ecology towards soil health and sustainable soil resources will change the current mainly passive character into a balanced approach including interventions.

As explained in the EPSO position paper on Horizon Europe (Feb. 2023), EPSO suggests adding from 2025 on a critical mass effort on enabling crop improvement and adaptation for food and nutritional security, sustainability and bioeconomy.

To this end, EPSO suggests further implementation of four EPSO concepts (see statement).

EPSO looks forward to further discuss and help implement these recommendations with colleagues from the European Commission and the Member State ministries and funders.

 Click here to read: Full EPSO statement and find in the Annex the original submission.

EPSO submissions to the EC consultation are:

Biodiversity:                              Contribution ID: b0a23782-1474-45a8-8c83-3aa01b9a7a88

Food systems:                          Contribution ID: 57556a93-4537-4b65-a0a6-700f8e6cc90c

Circular economy & bioeconomy: Contribution ID: 6f30808d-3a24-4897-90f5-50345b7cabab

Innovative governance..:            Contribution ID: 2fa9392d-e837-4ff1-ae9c-97d8972378f7

Soil Mission:                             Contribution ID: edcd3f50-dd1b-4e78-a16b-8423b158fc59

 Contacts:

Karin Metzlaff, EPSO Executive Director, BE

Timothy George, Hutton Institute, UK & EPSO Board

Odd Arne Rognli, NMBU, NO & EPSO President

Alan Schulman, LUKE, Univ. Helsinki, & former EPSO President

EPSO welcomes the European Commission consultation and provides input on the achievements and suggests where improve Horizon Europe and the next Framework Programme (FP) to have a higher impact. 

The European Research and Innovation FPs are crucial to enable scientists and innovators across Europe to collaborate to generate knowledge, to apply this knowledge to address today’s and future challenges and to help build a strong, competitive and resilient, inclusive and democratic European society and improve life on earth.

Plant scientists took an active role in the EU FPs from the start and want to contribute in the future.

They are active in pillar 1, mainly in the European Research Council and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, both working very well.

They could contribute more to pillar 2, particularly in cluster 6 on Food, bioeconomy, natural resources, agriculture and environment. To this end, we suggest the following improvements:

  • Further implement the following concepts:
    • Address Food and Nutritional Security, environmental sustainability, biodiversity (natural and cultivated) and human health in parallel as much as possible.
    • Improve / adapt crops towards ‘Diverse crops for diverse diets and human health and resilient production’.
    • ‘Combine approaches on crop improvement, crop management and crop processing’.
    • Policy makers should define the goals but leave the pathways to how to achieve these open to the stakeholders
  • Create a new heading ‘Enabling sustainable crop improvement’ in the Work Programme and / or partnership ‘CropBooster-Quest’:
    • CropBooster-Quest – Plant (systems) biology, crop improvement and plant breeding to achieve a critical mass investment enabling the community to substantially help addressing the challenges mentioned above and interacting with partnerships on biodiversity, agroecology, food systems.
    • To bridge the gap until a new partnership can be active, add the heading ‘Enabling sustainable crop improvement’ in the Work Programme.
  • Better link the health cluster (1) with the food, agriculture, biotechnology cluster (6) to truly enable plant biologists, breeders, processors, nutritional scientist and health experts to interdisciplinary research and innovation to improve nutritional compounds in plants for the human diet, which are then further protected during crop processing and human digestion. In addition, plant made pharmaceuticals can be co-developed for medical purposes.

 All scientists would benefit from more general improvements in pillar 2 across all disciplines and sectors:

  • Types of action: Add Research Actions (RAs) in pillar 2 to overcome the gap of collaborative basic research and complete the research and innovation cycle.
  • Identify funding priorities: Consult European academic associations. Define the goals, but not the pathways to how to reach these to truly enable innovation.
  • Implementation procedures: Increase trust in and flexibility for beneficiaries.

In the EPSO position paper we briefly explain each of these recommendations.

EPSO looks forward to further discuss and help implement these recommendations with colleagues from the European Commission and the Member State ministries and funders.

Click here to read: Full EPSO position paper on Horizon Europe and beyond

EPSO submission to the EC consultation is available here

Contacts:

Karin Metzlaff, EPSO Executive Director, BE

Odd Arne Rognli, NMBU, NO & EPSO President

InnCoCells – Innovative high-value cosmetic products from plants and plant cells – is a four-year collaborative research and innovation project that aims to revolutionize the way cosmetic ingredients are discovered, manufactured and developed into validated cosmetic products.

For the next four years, 17 partners, representing 12 countries in Europe will be working together to develop sustainable production systems for plant-derived cosmetic ingredients.

“The main goal of the project is to develop sustainable natural cosmetic ingredients from plants using innovative production processes based on plant cell cultures and plants grown in the greenhouse, field or aeroponic facilities, as well as agricultural waste streams. Plants that are currently in danger of overharvesting will be cultivated in a sustainable and cost-effective manner to ensure that the new ingredients pose no risk to biodiversity or environmental health,” says Dr Kirsi-Marja Oksman, the coordinator of the project from the VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd)

InnCoCells is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no 101000373 with a budget of €7.9 million.

Partners are universities and research organizations, including two EPSO members VTT (FI) and Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB / BE), SMEs and one large industry partner, EPSO and one sectorial organization representing the cosmetics industry.

EPSO will coordinate and engage the stakeholder group to facilitate their advice to project partners throughout the project on the planning and implementation from their point of view to optimise project results, their uptake and impact. They will support dissemination and exploitation of project results. The SHG will be invited annually to a project meeting EPSO will also support dissemination activities such as producing videos on the project.

By the end of the project, the InnCoCells researchers hope to have addressed seven key objectives:

  • Screening a range of plant species to find at least 10 with relevant metabolic pathways (being careful to observe access and benefit sharing rules).
  • Developing an evaluation pipeline to effectively test the plants for bioactive natural products, aiming to verify the activity of at least 50 ingredients.
  • At least 20 of these will lead to optimized production processes in cell cultures or whole plants, the latter grown in the greenhouse, field or aeroponic facilities.
  • Developing additional processes from at least 10 agricultural waste streams, using a cascade approach to produce multiple extracts from the same source to maximize value.
  • The fifth and sixth objectives involve the development of sustainable pilot-scale production and purification technologies for at least 10 active ingredients, and the assembly of product safety and regulatory dossiers as well as environmental assessments.
  • Sharing the knowledge generated in the project with cosmetics industry stakeholders and end-users, to help to commercialize the ingredients and develop products that will satisfy consumer demands.

Read the full Press release to know more.

Contacts: Dr Kirsi-Marja Oksman ([email protected]) and Dr Richard Twyman ([email protected])

www.inncocells.org

https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/101000373

The award honours a discovery made in basic research on bacteria, which has led to transformative applications in the plant and medical sciences. It is the first Nobel prize to be shared by two women.

In plant science, genome editing enables scientists and breeders to improve the whole range of plants, from fruit, fibre, and vegetable crops to legumes, cereals, and trees, on which people depend for food, health, and livelihoods. The method enables diversity enhancement and precise, targeted improvements leading to better nutritional quality, disease resistance, stress tolerance, and environmental sustainability for rapid advancement through breeding to farmers’ use. Even underutilised crops, on which critical-mass breeding efforts have not so far focused, due to their poor market share compared to the time and effort needed to improve them with classical methods, will benefit from the new genomic techniques. The resulting crops will contribute to environmental sustainability, very important in light of climate change, as well as to diverse diets and human health.

Plant scientists call upon policy makers to improve European legislation, so that the potential of genome editing to improve underutilised crops is unfettered from the substantial time and financial burden of the GM legislation to which it is currently tied. If genome-edited plants were only subject to the standard legislation any new plant variety has to follow, the diversity of cultivated crops as a whole, a main target of the European Biodiversity strategy for 2030, would be substantially increased.

Finally, the application of genome editing to neglected and medicinal species will help to explore and secure biodiversity, demonstrating its value by revealing the metabolic pathways of a large variety of bioactive secondary metabolites, which may for example have high potential in fighting against new diseases or against antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Click here to read: Full EPSO statement 07.10.2020, Nobel Prize PR, 07.10.2020

Contacts:

  • Alan Schulman, LUKE, FI & EPSO President
  • Angelo Santino, CNR, IT & EPSO Nutritional Security WG co-chair
  • Frank Hartung, JKI, DE & EPSO Agricultural Technologies WG co-chair
  • Kirsi-Marja Oksman-Caldentey, VTT, FI & EPSO Molecular Farming WG co-chair
  • Karin Metzlaff, EPSO