Catherine Bellini standing in the front of the lecture room behind a speakersdesk with several rows of sitting participants before watching herCatherine Bellini concluding the INUPRAG 2023 Symposium in Umeå (photo: Anne Honsel)

Last week, the third INUPRAG Symposium on Integrative Plant Biology took place at Hotel Mimer in Umeå. Researchers from the three partners of the INUPRAG cooperation - from the French INRAE, from UPSC and from the Spanish research centre CRAG - were meeting for the third time, presented their recent work, exchanged ideas and planted seeds for new research collaborations.

Enhancing networking and stimulating collaborative research projects – this is the goal of the INUPRAG cooperation. INUPRAG stands for INRAE, the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, UPSC and CRAG, the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics, located in Barcelona, Spain. All three institutes are strong research environments in plant sciences and the symposium last week was the third trilateral meeting since the start of the cooperation in 2015.

“Originally, we planned the symposium in Umeå for 2020 but had to postpone it because of the Covid-19 pandemic. We were pleasantly surprised by the high interest”, says Catherine Bellini, professor at Umeå University and Senior Scientist at INRAE, who was the main organiser of the symposium. “We expected that some of the speakers we invited will not have time to come but everyone said yes from the beginning. In the end, we had a very dense programme and about 140 instead of the 100 participants initially expected.”

People mingling around several posters photographed from abovePoster session during the INUPRAG Symposium (photo: Anne Honsel)

Thirty-five high quality talks by group leaders and 36 posters mainly from PhD students and postdocs were presented during the two-and-a-half-day symposium. In addition to the multidisciplinary presentations two round table discussions were organised about the European Horizon Europe programme and ways to further enhance networking within the INUPRAG cooperation.

Promoting the training of young scientists and facilitating knowledge transfer

“One objective of the cooperation is to promote the training of young scientists through lab exchanges between the partners and by enabling them to develop their networks”, explains Catherine Bellini. “We had six joint postdoctoral projects ongoing in 2020. Most of the postdocs have already moved on and could thus not present their research during this year’s symposium but we still think this is a good concept.”

The other major goal of the cooperation is to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and tools that are developed on model species like Arabidopsis and Poplar to crops and trees through joint research projects. The organisers of the symposium kept the afternoon of the second day free to give the participants time to meet and discuss potential future collaborations and offered a tour of the UPSC facilities.A group of people photographed from the back how they watch the phenotyping facilty at UPSC where aspen trees are standing on a rotating bandVisit at the phenotyping facility at UPSC (photo: Anne Honsel)

“It is always useful to visit other institutes and see what type of analyses can be done when planning research collaborations”, states Catherine Bellini who guided a group around UPSC. “We also learn a lot by exchanging experiences on how different facilities are managed at different institutes. It was fun to show our French and Spanish colleagues around and we are glad that they found it interesting. We are now looking forward for the next INUPRAG meeting which will be in France in 2025.”

The first meeting of the INUPRAG cooperation took place in Nancy, France, in 2015 when the first official agreement was signed. It was followed by a second meeting in Barcelona in 2018. That year, six postdoctoral fellowships were granted by the Kempestiftelserna, and the six postdocs started their collaborative research projects by the end of 2018/beginning of 2019. Since its start, about 100 co-publications have been published within the frame of the INUPRAG cooperation.

More information about the INUPRAG Cooperation

For questions regarding the INUPRAG cooperation, please contact:

Catherine Bellini
Umeå Plant Science Centre
Department of Plant Physiology
Umeå University
& Senior Scientist at INRAE
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