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  • Charlotte Gommers

Photobiology under the Mediterranean sun

A few weeks ago I went back to Barcelona. The lovely city where coffee is almost cheap, the sea breeze makes the burning sun bearable and that was my home for over 2 years. Flying over the Pyrenees and seeing Montserrat proudly arise in the backyard of the crowded streets of the city, I felt homesick and happy at the same time. “Yes, I am back!”

I came back for the International Symposium on Plant Photobiology (ISPP2019): a biannual conference on all aspects of plant photoreceptor signaling. What makes ISPP unique, is that the organization lies completely in the hands of members of the research community itself and is therefore evolving along with the scientific field. In 2013, this was the first international conference I went to as a PhD student, in Edinburgh at the time. Now, in 2019, it was the first international conference I co-organized. Together with my fantastic former colleagues (Elena Monte, Jaume Martinez-Garcia and Jordi Moreno-Romero) I was proud to welcome world-leading researchers in the field of light signaling to a sunny beach venue in down town Barcelona.

Our program represented not just established and renowned researchers from all over the world, but we also gave the stage to the rising stars in photobiology: PhD students, post-docs and young PI’s. A wide range of topics was discussed: from photoreceptor structures, via models of oscillating signals and long-distance signaling throughout the plant, towards strategies to use synthetically engineered light-receptors as molecular switches. Of course, I was happy to see that signals deriving from the chloroplasts have also found their way towards this meeting.

I am proud that we managed to create a safe and open atmosphere, which stimulated all the speakers to share unpublished work and their wild hypotheses. And during the three long and well-attended poster sessions, many new friendships and collaborations have arisen, I am sure of that!

Slightly homesick again, I came back, loaded with new ideas, new friendships and more great memories of Barcelona. I would like to take this opportunity again to thank everyone who attended ISPP2019 and shared her/his work with us. I think we have proven again that for plants (and the best of scientists), light is life!

The ISPP2019 organising committee


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