Seed quality is of paramount importance for agricultural performance and resistance to environmental constraints. Ensuring the health and high physiological potential of seeds is crucial for agri-food system sustainability and for international trade markets.
The SPS Summer School 2023 focused on the challenges of ensuring seed protection while meeting demands for a more environmentally respectful agriculture, reducing risks for humans and maintaining ecosystem health. Sessions addressed the genetic and physiological traits required to deal with fluctuating abiotic conditions and ecological communities of commensal and pathogenic microorganisms. Innovative strategies being developed to improve seed quality through plant breeding and post-harvest technologies were presented and economic and social factors as well as the legal framework for implementation were considered.
This school was an intensive one-week program, which involved theoretical lectures delivered by renowned experts and hands on practical courses on state-of-the-art technologies and approaches.
It brought together outstanding and enthusiastic young scientists (PhD students and young post-docs) and high-level researchers, as well as industrial representatives, in order to exchange knowledge and ideas in a field at the forefront of plant biology research.
It was limited to a small group of participants from all over the world (up to 18 maximum) to privilege interactions and offer them the chance to receive scientific training at an international level and in a relatively informal setting.
Program and speakers
Download the provisional program of the Summer School
This Summer School included:
> Theoretical modules (12 hours):
Leading scientists held lectures and discussions on summer school topics, giving the participants a comprehensive insight into the latest research findings and identifying key open questions in the field.
"EU and international legislation and trends in socioeconomics "
(coordinated by Armelle Mazé and Loïc Rajjou)
This session covered the development and commercialization of biological products in agriculture, such as biocontrol solutions and biostimulants, to protect and stimulate seeds and seedlings can be held back by a variety of legal and regulatory obstacles. In addition, the acceptance of seed technology innovation by public and industrial players was examined, including the impact of societal values and beliefs, economic considerations, scientific knowledge, and the role of civic societies, political authorities, companies, and the scientific community in providing opportunities for the deployment of biosolutions to improve seed quality.
- Armelle Mazé (Science Action Développement - Activités Produits Territoires - SADAPT, Palaiseau, France)
- Flora Limache (IBMA France)
"Seed defense mechanisms and seed-microbiomes"
(coordinated by Bertrand Dubreucq, Valérie Geffroy and Helen North)
Innate and inducible seed defense mechanisms were presented and discussed with a focus on the role of the mother plant, maternal tissues and the microbiome.
- Stéphane Compant (Austrian Institute of Technology, Tulin, Austria)
- Marie Simonin (Institut de Recherche en Horticulture et Semences - IRHS, Angers, France)
- Jérôme Verdier (Institut de Recherche en Horticulture et Semences - IRHS, Angers, France)
"Seed central and specialized metabolites"
(coordinated by Massimiliano Corso and François Perreau)
Diversity, plasticity and regulation of seed central (primary) and secondary metabolism were discussed. A particular attention was given to the environmental and genetic regulation of seed metabolism and their impact on seed quality.
- Barbara Ann Halkier (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
- Julia Zinsmeister (Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin - IJPB, Versailles, France)
(coordinated by Frédéric Chauffour and Loïc Rajjou)
A wide range of seed technologies are currently available (e.g. coating, pelleting, seed priming) or in development (e.g. cold plasma) that can be used to improve seed quality and resistance to environmental factor. How these can be complemented through seed technology innovations and their combination with biosolutions in order to increase crop yields and decrease synthetic pesticide use was presented. Major technological challenges that need to be overcome in order to successfully apply biocontrol solutions in seed treatment were discussed. Ongoing studies into mode of action, evaluating the effectiveness of these products, and developing formulations that are tailored to seeds and seedlings were also covered.
- Philippe Rousseau (Independent Consultant & Board Member - Seed and Ag Businesses, France)
- Camille Benetollo (CERIENCE, France)
> Practical sessions (11 hours)
Participants chose one of the 3 following topics:
1. Characterization of plant metabolites (coordinated by François Perreau, Stéphanie Boutet and Massimiliano Corso)
Characterization of seed specialized metabolite landscapes using untargeted metabolomics (LC-HRMS). During the practical sessions, the participants proceeded to the profiling and identification of seed specialized metabolites.
> Analysis of untargeted metabolomic data by the open source software mzMine3
> Construction of metabolic network and metabolite annotation by the open source software MetGem / GNPS and SIRIUS
> Statistical analyses by the open source software MetaboAnalyst
2. Getting the most out of transcriptomes (coordinated by Etienne Delannoy)
> RNA extraction and quality controls
> Update on RNA-seq approaches
> From expression tables to biology: differential expression, co-expression, annotation enrichments using DiCoExpress
> Experimental design
3. Seed treatments and assessment of germination performance (coordinated by Frédéric Chauffour, Omaé Pozza, Corentin Moreau, Shuang Peng and Loïc Rajjou)
> Seed treatments on models and crops
> Germination tests based on ISTA rules
> Introduction to germination metrics and data analyses
> Working groups (6h)
The working group sessions were dedicated to team work. The participants were asked to make three groups, to choose one thematic among three types of biosolutions (i.e. 1-peptides, 2-metabolites, 3-microbial communities) as potential alternatives to synthetic pesticides. Based on the literature, their own experience and the support from the invited speakers, they were asked to come up with suggestions of experiments, methodologies, formulations or else that would help to design innovative treatments to protect seeds and seedlings using biocontrol strategies. The round table was the occasion for the participants to present the results of their brainstorming, through a 15 min short talk, and to discuss with the invited speakers about the future challenges in this thematic.
> Presentations of the participants’ projects
> Visits: SPS labs / new Campus Agro (INRAE-AgroParisTech)
> Cultural excursion at the Palace of Versailles
This varied program gave plenty of opportunities for discussion with speakers and the other participants.
Helen North1 (Coordinator)
Loïc Rajjou1 (Coordinator)
1 Jean-Pierre Bourgin Institute (IJPB, Versailles)
2 POPS, Institute of Plant Sciences Paris-Saclay (IPS2, Gif-sur-Yvette)
3 Science Action Développement - Activités Produits Territoires (SADAPT, Palaiseau)
4 SEED IN TECH (Versailles)
Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin
Centre INRAE Île-de-France Versailles-Grignon
Route de St-Cyr (RD 10)