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Flowering around the Med

The beach on the French Cote d’Azur
For obvious reasons, these workshops are always on the Mediterranean: last time Italy, this time France, next time Spain. Photo: Laetitia Payet.

A scene from a talk at the workshop.
Prof. Phil Gilmartin of the University of East Anglia telling us about dimorphic self-incompatibility in Primula. Photo: Laetitia Payet.

The latest in a series of two-yearly workshops on Molecular Mechanisms Controlling Flower Development was held this June on the Giens Peninsula of the French Cote d’Azur. This workshop, which was generously supported by Annals of Botany, brought together around 130 fans of flower development from Europe and around the world, with delegates travelling from as far afield as China, Japan, Australia, Mexico and Brazil.

Scientists hard at work in a poster session.
The poster session proved popular for the quality of both the science and the cocktails. Photo: Laetitia Payet.

Wide-ranging aspects of flowering and flower development were discussed, including evolutionary considerations, with several talks focusing on newly sequenced gymnosperm genomes in an attempt to discover how flowers first evolved. As usual at these workshops, quite a number of presentations featured that well-known genetic warhorse Arabidopsis thaliana, but an increasing number of impressive molecular studies focused on newer models, including Petunia, Primula, roses, rice, strawberries and even pitcher plants.

Senecio cineraria DC
A bit of botanizing on the Isle of Porquerolles. This is Senecio cineraria DC. We didn’t find any Arabidopsis. Photo: Laetitia Payet.

Workshop participants were able to discuss their science on the beach as well as in the auditorium and poster hall, or even while trying to beat the locals at a game of boules. Most delegates also took the opportunity of a bracing dip in the sea (still not quite at its optimum temperature!), or joined in a botanical visit to take a look at the characteristic “Thermo-Mediterranean” flora on the Isle of Porquerolles, only a 20 min boat ride away.

A special issue of Annals of Botany, containing papers from a selection of speakers featured in this year’s workshop, is planned to appear in the first half of 2014. Please also look out for announcements of the next workshop in the series, which will take place somewhere on the Mediterranean coast of Spain in 2015.

Dancing botanists.
As usual, we ended the workshop by proving that botanists can and will dance. Photo: Laetitia Payet.

Charlie Scutthttp://www.ens-lyon.fr/RDP/Personnel
When he isn't dancing, Charlie Scutt researches the evolution and development of flowers at the Laboratoire RDP, Lyons.

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