Gordon Research Conferences
Meeting Details

Plant Metabolic Engineering (GRS)
Gordon Research Seminar

Plant Engineering in the Synthetic Biology Era


July 8-9, 2017


Waterville Valley
Waterville Valley, NH Site Information


Craig A. Schenck & Richard M.E. Payne

Application Deadline

The application deadline for this meeting was June 10, 2017. You may still submit an application, which may be considered by the conference chair if there is still room available.

Meeting Description


The Gordon Research Seminar on Plant Metabolic Engineering is a unique forum for graduate students, post-docs and other scientists with comparable levels of experience and education, to present and exchange novel unpublished data and cutting edge ideas.

This meeting will focus on the fundamental understanding of plant biochemical pathways, and their applications towards the production of compounds for the bioeconomy. In order to utilize a synthetic biology approach for the economically viable production of plant metabolites, there is a need for the elucidation of biochemical pathways through gene discovery, an understanding of how biochemical pathways are compartmentalized and regulated, as well as an understanding how this information can be combined to engineer the production of high value compounds. This meeting will bring together early career scientists from broad disciplines to discuss many of the key issues facing the application of synthetic biology to plant metabolic engineering. In addition we will have a career panel discussion, with scientists from academia, industry and government, focusing on the difficult transition between PhD and post-doctoral roles, to other diverse careers in science.

Application Instructions

The meeting will feature approximately 10 talks and 2 poster sessions. All attendees are expected to actively participate in the GRS either by giving an oral presentation or presenting a poster. Therefore, all applications must include an abstract.

The Chairs will select speakers from abstracts submitted by April 8, 2017. Those applicants who are not chosen for talks and those who apply after the deadline to be considered for an oral presentation will be expected to present a poster. In order to participate, you must submit an application by the date indicated in the Application Deadline section above.

Related Meeting

This GRS will be held in conjunction with the "Plant Metabolic Engineering" Gordon Research Conference (GRC). Those interested in attending both meetings must submit an application for the GRC in addition to an application for the GRS. Refer to the associated GRC program page for more information.


Meeting Program

2:00 pm - 5:00 pmArrival and Check-in
3:30 pm - 3:45 pmIntroductory Comments by GRC Site Staff / Welcome by the GRS Conference Chair
3:45 pm - 4:30 pmDiscovering Plant Chemical Diversity
Discussion Leaders: Eva Knoch (RIKEN, Japan) and Benjamin Brown (Iowa State University, USA)
3:45 pm - 4:00 pmBastien Christ (Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA)
"Discovery and Reduction of Nonspecific Activities of the Major Herbicide-Resistance Gene BAR"
4:00 pm - 4:05 pmDiscussion
4:05 pm - 4:20 pmPrema Karunanithi (University of California, Davis, USA)
"Identification of a Cytochrome P450 Monooxygenase Involved in Marrubiin Biosynthesis"
4:20 pm - 4:25 pmDiscussion
4:25 pm - 4:30 pmGeneral Discussion
4:30 pm - 6:00 pmPoster Session
6:00 pmDinner
7:30 pm - 9:30 pmMerging Biology and Engineering for Pathway Construction
Discussion Leaders: Cynthia Holland (Washington University in St. Louis, USA) and Ju Eun Jeon (Stanford University, USA)
7:30 pm - 7:45 pmAmy Calgaro-Kozina (Stanford University, USA)
"Discovery and Engineering of an Anti-Fungal Biosynthetic Pathway from Edible Plants"
7:45 pm - 7:50 pmDiscussion
7:50 pm - 8:05 pmVonny Salim (Michigan State University, USA)
"Functional Characterization of a 10-O-Methyltransferase and Novel Glucosidases in the Camptothecin Pathway of Camptotheca acuminata"
8:05 pm - 8:10 pmDiscussion
8:10 pm - 8:25 pmSoon Goo Lee (Washington University in St. Louis, USA)
"Structure and Mechanism of Isopropylmalate Dehydrogenase from Arabdiopsis thaliana: Insights on Leucine and Aliphatic Glucosinolate Biosynthesis"
8:25 pm - 8:30 pmDiscussion
8:30 pm - 8:45 pmPengxiang Fan (Michigan State University, USA)
"Engineering Acylsugar Diversity: Lessons from Evolutionary Variation of the Tomato Acylsucrose Metabolic Network"
8:45 pm - 8:50 pmDiscussion
8:50 pm - 9:25 pmJoseph Jez (Washington University in St. Louis, USA)
"There and Back Again: Crystals to Plants (and Everything in Between)"
9:25 pm - 9:30 pmDiscussion
7:30 am - 8:30 amBreakfast
9:00 am - 11:00 amMetabolism, Pathway and Fluxes / Systems Biology for the Bioeconomy
Discussion Leaders: Teresa Clark (Michigan State University, USA) and Bianca Ribeiro (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology, Belgium)
9:00 am - 9:15 amMaor Battat (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel)
"Primary and Phenylpropanoids Metabolism in Arabidopsis Tapetal Cells Is Regulated by a Functionally Conserved Triad of R2R3-MYB Transcription Factors"
9:15 am - 9:20 amDiscussion
9:20 am - 9:35 amJaya Joshi (Western University, Canada)
"Deciphering Sulfur Amino Acid Metabolism in Developing Seed of Common Bean: An Approach Towards an Excellent Source of Protein"
9:35 am - 9:40 amDiscussion
9:40 am - 9:55 amCassandra Johnny (Michigan State University, USA)
"Probing the Biochemical Continuity of the Plastid and ER Using the Gibberellin Biosynthetic Pathway"
9:55 am - 10:00 amDiscussion
10:00 am - 10:15 amRyan Nett (Iowa State University, USA)
"Elucidation of a Convergent Gibberellin Biosynthetic Pathway in Symbiotic Bacteria"
10:15 am - 10:20 amDiscussion
10:20 am - 10:35 amGina Gordon (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)
"Tool Building and Synthetic Biology in the Cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002"
10:35 am - 10:40 amDiscussion
10:40 am - 10:55 amEric Poliner (MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, USA)
"Development of a Genetic Toolkit for the Oleaginous Microalga Nannochloropsis oceanica"
10:55 am - 11:00 amDiscussion
11:00 am - 12:30 pmPoster Session

Coffee will be served in the poster area from 11:00 am - 11:30 am
12:30 pmLunch
1:30 pm - 2:30 pmMentorship Component: Career Panel
This career panel consists of scientists at various stages in their careers and in various fields from government to industry and academia. They are here to answer questions about transitioning from graduate and post doc roles into permanent careers in science.
Discussion Leaders: Craig Schenck (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA) and Richard Payne (University of Oxford, United Kingdom)
1:30 pm - 2:30 pmPanel Discussion
"Transitioning to a Permanent Position"
  • Parag Chitnis (National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, USA)
  • Jonathan (Josh) Cohn (Syngenta, USA)
  • Andrew Hanson (University of Florida, USA)
  • Hiroshi Maeda (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)
  • Kristala Jones-Prather (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA)
2:30 pm - 3:00 pmEvaluation Period
Fill in GRS Evaluation Forms
3:00 pmSeminar Concludes

Funding for this conference was made possible [in part] by 1 R13 AT09506-01 from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
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