From Plant Biology 2016 concurrent sessions: Heterosis & “How to Negotiate Your Offer” Workshop

We put out a call for some short write ups for the minisymposia at Plant Biology in Austin, TX. We’d like to grow this kind of digital coverage in the future, so if you’re interested in doing brief write ups of concurrent session talks at Plant Biology 2017, keep that in mind.

Yao Luo, Research Scientist at Monsanto wrote about the heterosis session and gave a few of his take-aways from Plant Biology.


Plant Biology 2016 had many good talks in mini-symposiums. Among them my favorite is heterosis mini-symposium. In this session were a few talks regarding how plants reprogram the methylation sites or how they “pass memory” over to the next generation. It is almost like in a science-fiction movie that the progeny can inherit the memory from their ancestors but the progeny is only a seed. Heterosis is well known phenotype often referred as hybrid vigor. Until the Ian Greaves talk, I always thought the hybrid vigor is due to the gene expression of two different alleles instead of altered pattern of DNA methylation. This talk definitely changed my view regarding the basic principle behind the hybrid vigor. Another really interesting talk from this session is about the Muts HOMOLOG1 (MSH1) mutant presented by Sally Mackenzie. In her talk, MSH1 protein that in chloroplasts can trigger multiple developmental changes such as delayed flowering, extended juvenility as well as dwarfed growth and reduced internode elongation when MSH1 is suppressed. This has big implications in agriculture.

“How to Negotiate Your Offer” Workshop

I volunteered in the workshop “how to negotiate your offer” offered by The Membership Committee. It was very interesting to learn all the information from different organization (university, teaching only college, USDA and industry). All the panel members shared their insights regarding each area. It was well received and all the attendees got their questions answered. I was proud as an ASPB member since this is how I would like to offer my help to the fellow graduate students as well as post-doc in the plant society.

My top plant sciences takeaway message

  1. Science is fun! While listening to all the talks, I was energized by the research we are doing. From the supertasters to a nicotine-repelled hummingbird helping outcrossing, there is so much to learn. Plants have evolved to achieve their goals through intricate design.
  2. Plants rock! How can a plant evolve to produce a secondary metabolite when it is attacked by an insect and make the insect dispose stinky frass that attracts their natural predators (Ian Baldwin)? How can a plants design an intricate network to produce a final product without being affected by toxic intermediates? How can a plant sense abiotic stress, methylate DNA, and pass the same methylation pattern to their progenies?

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