International Botanical Congress 2017

Text and pics by Linda-Liisa Veromann-Jürgenson

I was honoured to be accepted to speak at a symposium in the XIX IBC in Shenzhen, China in the end of July this year.

This year’s IBC was a grandiose event with around 7000 participants, hundreds of presentations divided between two colossal venues, over a thousand posters and 10 000 volunteers helping the organizers make things run smoothly. Indeed, this was the largest IBC ever. The logistics must have been a huge challenge, but the organizers managed it beautifully. As is common today, there was even an app for people unwilling to carry the 0.5 kg program book 🙂

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Fig. 1. The IBC venue from the outside on Sunday morning


There were abundant thought-provoking talks for everyone interested in botany: talks on genetics, taxonomy, paleobotany, plant physiology, plant-human relationships, evolution of photosynthetic strategies and so much more from the aspect of climate change, agronomy, human impact, base sciences as well as history. I was excited to see so many big names whose articles I’ve read and reread present in person! Equally, I was impressed by and incredibly glad to hear the talks of many scientists I had not come across during my studies. I have a huge list of articles I want to read as soon as possible and will keep a close eye on their future work from now.


Fig. 2. Plenary lectures could be listened to in two rooms with seats for up to 7000 people

I presented a talk based on our recent article published in the Journal of Experimental Botany titled “Extremely thick cell walls and low mesophyll conductance: welcome to the world of ancient living!” in a symposium on “Functional traits explaining responses to past and future climate changes” organized by Prof. Dr. Hermann Heilmeier and Dr. Shahin Zarre. This symposium was organized as a part of the celebration of the 200th year of publication of the journal FLORA in 2018. (Additionally, a special issue will be published in 2018 related to the topic of the symposium.) I found the symposium very exciting and well-rounded regarding functional traits and climate change. As a bonus, I also met the commissioning editor of JExBot at the Expo who oversaw the Insight published about our paper and remembered my name (thank you, double hyphenation :))!

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Fig. 3. Presenting in the Tulip Hall of the main venue: the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Centre

There were several options to go to local field trips as well, I opted for the Shenzhen Botanical Garden (with another 440 scientists). Luckily, whoever is in charge of weather there was in a good mood that day as the sun shined bright the whole trip. Shenzhen Botanical Garden boasts a great diversity of plants, but I was most impressed by their Cycad collection (both the living and fossilized specimens) and the petrified forest. The latter is a remarkable assemblage of fossilized tree trunks collected across Asia, but mostly from Mongolia set upright to stand tall once more.

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Fig. 4. Some specimens from the Cycadaceae garden

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Fig. 5. The petrified forest was a sight to see. The artificial structure in the mountains in the background is on top on Mount Wutong, the tallest mountain in Shenzhen (944 m)

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Fig. 6. Me standing in front of one tall dead tree, minute in both size and age in comparison

The congress was a great experience and I came back with lots of new ideas, knowledge and contacts for future collaboration. And a huge dose of extra motivation to work hard in this field so many people love and appreciate.

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Fig. 7. There was also a huge expo

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Fig. 8. The IBC logo constructed from plants and statues as seen after the last session



My trip to China was funded by the Archimedes foundation Dora Plus 1.1. Thank you!

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