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 🙂
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 :))!
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.
Fig. 4. Some specimens from the Cycadaceae garden
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)
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.
Fig. 7. There was also a huge expo
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!