The organizers of the University of Michigan Green Life Sciences Symposium produced a virtual cross-journal special issue that takes a broad look at plant-environment interactions. The presented research of 12 symposium speakers, including both keynote speakers, is featured among the 27 manuscripts.

The three journals that published the collected works are the American Journal of Botany (AJB), the International Journal of Plant Sciences (IJPS), and Applications in Plant Sciences (APPS). The February 2020 issues of each journal featured research on plant-environment interactions – each from a different angle. Articles in AJB looked at plant stress, reproduction, and mutualisms; articles in APPS focused on novel methods and tools to study plant-environment interactions; and articles in IJPS focused on the paleobotanical and morphological perspectives.

Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Regina Baucom and Professor Selena Smith, Program in the Environment and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, served as editors for IJPS and AJB, respectively, with the help of researchers from other universities.

A highlight of both the symposium, held in September 2018, and the special issue is the strong representation of women and minority researchers – 68 and 74 percent of the first and last authors to be published in AJB, for example, are women plant biologists. The symposium theme was “Plant-environment interactions across levels and scales.”

“I truly enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to this special feature in AJB and was also grateful for the opportunity to support the work of other researchers that are highlighted in this special feature,” said Baucom. “The depth and breadth of the manuscripts in this issue were remarkable and each of the contributions should have a lasting and positive effect on the plant sciences. We are incredibly thankful to have had the strong support of many units on campus, which allowed us to hold the Green Life Sciences Symposium and led to the special features in AJB, IJPS, and APPS.”

The keynote speakers were Joanna Schmitt, National Academy member and Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Davis, and Beronda Montgomery, Michigan State University Foundation Professor. Twenty-two researchers, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty, six from the University of Michigan presented their research at the symposium. Seventeen early-career researchers presented speed talks, and 35 students and postdocs (12 from U-M) presented posters during a dinner and poster event hosted by the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Over 100 registered for the event. In addition to talks, the dinner and poster session, they held a special session on careers in plant sciences with representatives from industry, academia and non-profit organizations.

The symposium was generously supported by funds from the Departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, the Program in the Environment, the School for the Environment and Sustainability,  the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office and the ADVANCE office (with an Elizabeth C. Crosby grant). Funds from each of the units offset the cost of supporting speakers and enabled 10 early-career researchers to attend the conference and contribute articles to the cross-journal special feature. The 2018 Green Life Sciences committee included Regina Baucom; Selena Smith; Cora McAllister, MCDB; Robert Grese and David Michener, MBGNA; and Jillian Myers, EEB. 

“Publishing symposium proceedings takes much effort, persistence and dedication, especially if it involves multiple journals,” EEB Professor and Chair Diarmaid Ó Foighil wrote in a congratulatory email. 

Read more: AAAS Eurekalert press release