The ASPB has a proud history of bringing the plant science community together. This year, although we can’t meet in person, we will come together online for #plantbio20, Plant Biology Worldwide Summit 2020, which will be held online July 27–31, 2020. Defining the Phenotype is currently scheduled for 10:10 AM ET on Monday July 27th, but please check the schedule for updates at

Our first plenary symposium, Defining the Phenotype:  Robustness, Resilience, and Stochastic Processes in Cellular Behavior, organized by Judy Callis (UC Davis), will explore the often complex relationship between cellular process and organism phenotype. This series will take us from a “wide-angle” view of variation through population-based sensitivity thresholds, to a molecular view of noisy and dynamic gene regulation. In between, our speakers will explore meristem re-assembly during root tip regeneration, and stochasticity and robustness in Arabidopsis sepal development.

Kent Bradford (UC Davis) will present “Understanding biological variation through population-based sensitivity thresholds”, Ken Birnbaum (NYU) will present “Meristem re-assembly during root tip regeneration”, Adrienne Roeder (Cornell University) “Stochasticity and robustness in Arabidopsis sepal development”, and James Locke (Sainsbury Laboratory) “Noisy and dynamic gene regulation in Arabidopsis” join Judy Callis (UC Davis). 

Root tip regeneration

Organizer Judy Callis writes “I have always wondered about the basis for those pesky error bars in physiological assays. Is this technical error just due to challenges in exact replication?  Or is there something inherently “noisy” in biological systems?  While we are learning much about genetic variation in a population, when we reduce gene sequence, environmental differences and epigenetic variation, why does phenotypic variation continue? On the opposite side, the robustness of processes whereby cells show invariant phenotypes to give rise to regular patterns despite variable growth conditions has also always puzzled me. In this symposium, exploring “Defining the Phenotype”  these leading researchers are seeking answers to these types of questions via different approaches, and I hope they will take us on their intellectual journeys.”

Please join us online for this terrific symposium! Follow #PlantBio20 on Twitter and check the website for updates!

Post by Michelle Woodvine and Jennifer Mach for Peridot Scientific Communications.