Challenges in Plant Sciences – PSC Colloquium

Date and Location

  • Monday, 24 September 2018, 14.15–17.45h, room HG F 33.1, ETH Zurich,  map, (kick-off talks by PSC lecturers); and
  • Monday, 29 October 2018, tentative schedule: 09.15–16:15h. room ML H 37.1, ETH Zurich, map (group presentations of students)

PSC Lecturers

Jordi Bascompte (UZH), Elena Conti (UZH), Mana Gharun (ETHZ), Stefan Grob (UZH), Beat Keller/Javier Sanchez-Martin (UZH), Frank Liebisch (ETHZ), Timothy McLaren/Federica Tamburini (ETHZ), Andrea Sanchez Vallet (ETHZ), Daniella Schweizer (ETHZ), Thomas Boller (U Basel), Sylvia Martinez (PSC & U Basel))


The colloquium “Challenges in Plant Sciences” is a core event of the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center's PhD program and the MSc module. The colloquium introduces participants to the broad spectrum of disciplines in plant sciences. The topics offer integrated knowledge about plant sciences, they range from the molecular level to the ecosystem level, and from basic to applied science while making use of the synergies between the different research groups of the PSC. The course offers a unique chance to approach interdisciplinary topics as challenges in the field of plant sciences.

During the kick-off meeting, each involved PSC lecturer gives a short kick-off talk as a general introduction to his/her research field. Subsequently, each student group prepares a presentation chosen from a variety of topics and based on literature provided by the tutors. Students gain knowledge and practice discussing and presenting research results.

Program, Monday, 29 October 2018 (student talks)

09:15 Welcome Sylvia Martinez, PSC

Function of virulence factors in plant pathogenic fungi

Sanchez Vallet group: M. Scheggia, M. Toda, C. Vieira


Molecular and functional analysis of natural genetic diversity in crop plants

Keller group: J. Alkemade, Y. Li, L. Schwyter

10:30 Break  

Plant phenotyping: applications of robotics and digital sensors

Liebisch group: A. Bernasconi, L. Distefano, A. Riedl


A phylogenetic approach to elucidate the evolution of plant diversity

Conti group: I. Diop, A. Maccagni, A. Perrier, M. Thieme

12:20 Lunch break

Sandwich lunch for all particpants (offered by PSC)


Forest landscape restoration

Schweizer group: F. Argento, N. Dia, A. Giraldo, A. Neubauer


Networks of species interactions

Bascompte group: HY. Huang, V. Lepori, D. Sanchez Castro, Q. Sun

15:00 Break  

Studying 3D nuclear architecture in plants

Grob group: M. Nay, B. Manser, G. Potente


Soil organic phosphorus

McLaren, Tamburini group: N. Engbersen, Y. Liu, R. Maier

16:30 Approx. end of colloquium  

Program, Monday, 24 September 2018 (kick-off talks)

14h15 Introduction to the colloquium Sylvia Martinez PSC
14h30 A phylogenetic approach to elucidate the evolution of plant diversity Elena Conti, UZH
14h45 Molecular diversity of resistance genes against fungal diseases in cereal crops Javier Sánchez Martín /  Beat Keller, UZH
15h00 Plant phenotyping: applications of robotics and digital sensors Frank Liebisch, ETHZ
15h15 Role of plant functional diversity on ecosystem greenhouse gas exchange Mana Gharun, ETHZ
15h30 Networks of species interactions Jordi Bascompte, UZH
15h45 Break  
16h15 Forest landscape restoration Daniella Schweizer, ETHZ
16h30 Function of virulence factors in plant pathogenic fungi Andrea Sanchez Vallet, ETHZ
16h45 The chemical nature and cycling of phosphorus in soil-plant systems Timothy McLaren, ETHZ
17h00 Studying 3D nuclear architecture in plants Stefan Grob, UZH
17h15 All student groups meet with their respective tutor to define content and work schedule for student talks. All participants
17h45 Approximate end of first event  

Main objectives

  • Introduce PhD and Master students to the broad field of plant sciences
  • Promote active participation and independent student work
  • Enhance presentation and discussion skills
  • Increase interactions among students and teachers
  • Promote an interdisciplinary and integrative teaching program

Course structure and timetable

  1. Students register with PSC and choose a topic through the doodle (tba).
  2. During the kick-off meeting PSC lecturers hold short talks on their research topics and groups. Afterwards student groups meet with tutors/lecturers to define their talks scheduled for November and to plan the student teamwork.
  3. Between September and October: Each student group prepares its colloquium talks independently. Literature will be provided.
  4. Colloquium block course will be held in October, (check the exact schedule further up this website). Student groups present their talks. Each student receives grading and feedback from two experts.

Grading and Credit Points

2 Credit Points for PhD and Master students. Based on 8 days of work (= 60 learning hours) consisting of 1.5 days block course and 6.5 days of independent preparation time for the talk.