1st international Plant Systems Biology meeting
10.09.2018 - 14.09.2018
From the development of genetic laws (famous Gregor Mendel’s peas), to the discovery of transposons in maize by Barbara Mc Clintock 1, or the discovery of co-suppression phenomenon in petunia 2, that lead to the development of the concept of gene silencing and epigenetics; plant science has contributed to tremendous fundamental achievements in biology.
Moreover, “given that the value of the world’s agriculture is more than three times that of the entire pharmaceutical industry and that many more people die each year of hunger and malnutrition than from cancer […]” (quote from 3) plant biology has also the potential to address vital and applied scientific questions.
Interestingly, among the scientific achievements made by the plant biology community, is the publication of third complete multicellular organism genome (from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana, 120Mb in 2000 4) just after the completion of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (5 100 Mb in 1998), and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster 6 (165 Mb early 2000). This constitutes a landmark dataset opening what is commonly named the post-genomic era. Since then, in almost 15 years, an exponential amount of data is accumulating making the rise of a new sort of biology called Systems Biology (SB) which can be seen as a paradigm shift in our way to understand biological systems.
Thus, the functioning of a plant as a system is not the result of a simple network, but rather a combination of multiple, intertwined, dynamic, and linear or nonlinear interactions between its elements (DNA, RNA, proteins, metabolites, organelles, cell types, organs, etc.). In addition, this sessile system has to face a combination of fluctuating environmental conditions, including biotic and abiotic stresses. It becomes obvious that the comprehensive knowledge of how this plant system functions in its environment cannot be achieved by the sequential characterization of its elements one by one, or a single class of elements in isolation of the others.
This is why SB aim is to use mathematical modeling procedures together with computer science to study biological objects as a whole trying to explore their emerging properties. Many plant biology labs around the world are taking these new avenues of research and are even developing landmark datasets and analysis, bridging biology, modeling and computer science.
The proposed Jacques Monod conference (1st international Plant Systems Biology [iPSB] meeting) is meant to consolidate the plant biology community around this emerging field that represents an important shift in plant biology studies.
This initiative has been taken by the organization committee in 2015 during the Paris ICAR conference. They decided that an iPSB meeting would be a great opportunity to disseminate the potential of Systems Biology studies in plant science, and would be the beginning of an important series of conferences in the future. As they decided that the first one would be held in France, they considered the Jacques Monod (one of the “Father” of regulatory networks) conferences as the perfect tool to launch such project.