Newsletter April 2018

Dear Members of the International Society of Root Research, 

We would like to welcome you to our sixth ISRR newsletter, designed to stimulate global communication and advancement of plant root science and inform you about ongoing activities within the root research community and the ISRR. Feel free to share this newsletter with others, ISRR members and non-members. 


SPECIAL FEATURE: ROOTS of the ISRR and Recipients of the 10th Conference Celebratory Awards
The ISRR Meeting in Israel this July marks the 10th international conference of root researchers, organized and hosted by society members. The ISRR is the largest society of root scientists internationally (now over 500 members), with the primary function of bringing together the world’s scientists regularly to share the latest in root research.
To celebrate the 10th ISRR Meeting, four root researchers are recognized for making significant contributions to the success of the ISRR.

Read about contributions of the Awardees below and meet them at ISRR 10 in Israel!

Monika Sobotik, Root Scientist, Pflanzensoziologisches Institut, Bad Goisern, Austria
Dr Monika Sobotik is a co-founder of the International Society of Root Research who had very important contributions to the life and success of the Society through very active participation in organization of the first six ISRR Symposia between 1982 and 2001 and some subsequent Symposia. Together with Profs Drs Von Lore Kutschera and Erwin Lichtenegger she published a fundamental study on the morphology and anatomy of plant root systems (Wurzelatlas, 7 volumes) which is unique and invaluable source for all involved in the root research. This can be purchased from Amazon.
More information about her research can be found on her website.

Peter Gregory, Professor of Global Food Security, University of Reading, UK
Peter Gregory is an outstanding international driver of root research. His research made major contributions to the analysis of root architecture in the field and its contribution to crop yield, especially in response to biotic and abiotic stresses. His research into root-soil interaction via root exudates linked root biology with soil chemistry and physics and reflects his broad understanding of root biology that underpins his advocacy for this growing field.
Peter’s connections to ISRR go back to 1985. In 1985, he organised with John Lake and Derek Rose a meeting for the Society of Experimental Biology at Bangor on 'Root Development and Function' - this was later published as a book. In the final discussion of the meeting several participants enthused about this being an excellent forum (one of the first) for root researchers and Peter Barlow (who was one of the invited speakers) took this up with Hans Persson and the central role of the ISRR as a host of international meetings, emerged with the developing ISRR around that time.
In 2009, it was proposed that Peter should become President. Peter’s main aim as President has been to engage with all root researchers worldwide and to make the meeting the focal point of scientific advances in roots. This has been successful, especially by adding a genetic component to the congress and making the ISRR symposium one of the most important root meetings worldwide.
Read all about Peter and his publications at Researchgate.

Alvin JM Smucker, Professor of Soil Biophysics, Michigan State University, USA
Prof Alvin Smucker is awarded an ISRR Tenth Conference Celebratory Award because of his long-standing commitment to root research and his associated contributions to the ISRR. In addition to his research, Alvin supported the activities of the ISRR, from the beginning. He was elected Vice President of ISRR at the initial conference in Uppsala, Sweden in 1982, which he served until reorganization in 2012. He assisted James Box and Bobby McMichael at the conference held in the USA in 1996. He was a keynote speaker at the ISRR meeting in Japan in 2001 and again in Vienna in 2009. Behind the scenes he worked quietly to bring about change and to encourage a diverse, international Society. He formally became Executive Secretary at the General Meeting in 2012 but informally undertook that role from 2009 stepping down at the Canberra General Meeting in 2015.
Alvin is Professor of Soil Biophysics at Michigan State University where he was appointed as Assistant Professor in 1974 and achieved rapid promotion to full Professor in 1983. His research at that time was focussed on roots and their interactions with soil especially the complex interaction between roots, soil carbon, and soil structure – a theme that he has pursued for many years. Alvin has always combined his academic interests with practical improvements to methodologies; an essential element of progress in studying roots. Two methodologies particularly stand out. Firstly, the development of the hydropneumatic elutriation system for separating roots from soil in a standardised manner. This equipment is now copied and used around the world and has aided the work of many soil-based root researchers. Secondly, he was among the first to realise that the benefits of minirhizotrons would only be fully realised if an automated process were made available for analysing the images and ‘separating’ the roots from the soil. His lab was quick to develop root imaging software and offered this as a no cost service to other researchers.
Check his Researchgate account for Alvin’s publications

Hans Persson, Professor in Root Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden
In 1982 Prof Dr Hans Persson founded the International Society of Root Research (ISRR) and served as elected President of the ISRR for 27 years, until 2009. He organized and co-organized 6 symposia in this time. The organization of symposia for a lively exchange of information between scientists of different nations and different climatic conditions has always been one of the main purposes of the ISRR.  In addition, Hans Persson lead a large number of research projects and evaluated research in e.g. Austria, USA, UK, and Sweden, taken active part in more than 110 international scientific meetings  (congresses, conferences, workshops, symposia) in more than 20 different countries with oral presentations, posters and introductory speeches and as leader of workshops and excursions. Also, he has been involved in organizing international symposia in Sweden, Austria, Kazakhstan, USA, and Japan with 200-400 participants.
More information about his publications can be found on Researchgate.

                Prof Michelle Watt, Executive Secretary of the ISRR, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany


Final preparations for the ISRR 10 meeting in Israel in July 2018
Registration for the meeting is ongoing. From 5 June onwards, late registration with a slightly higher fee will be in place (registration). Further information can be found on the conference website, as well as on the ISRR website.


Feature publications

  • Zhukovskaya et al., 2018 “Global analysis of an exponential model of cell proliferation for estimation of cell cycle duration in the root apical meristem of angiosperms”; about the exponential model for determination of cell cycle time in the root apical meristem compared to the laborious 3H-thymidine method (Journal website).
  • A book: Elke Barbez and Daniela Ristova, Root Development: Methods and Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology, Springer Science + Business Media (publisher’s website).

 Please nominate a recent publication from your group for featuring in the following newsletter!


Some interesting meetings upcoming in the next months

  • 3rd International Conference on Plant science and Physiology, 21-22 May 2018 in Osaka, Japan (conference website)
  • 20th International Conference on Plant Biology, 14-15 June 2018 in Vienna, Austria (conference website)

 Please let us know if another interesting conference, ideally featuring a section about roots, is coming up so that we can promote the meeting on our website and in the next newsletters.


Follow ISRR News on Twitter account @RootScientists
News from members of the International Society of Root Research is now featured on Twitter in an account (hosted jointly with the International Plant Phenotyping Network (IPPN) Root Phenotyping Working Group). Have a look for insights into ongoing root research and phenotyping, shared by members of either group and feel free to tweet and retweet us!


If you would like to announce something or give feedback to the newsletter or the web site, please write an email to our official address ( The next newsletter should be published in July 2018, after the ISRR10 conference. Of course you can also retract your agreement to receiving this e-bulletin in the future.


Kind regards,

Dr. Josefine Kant (née Nestler) and Prof. Michelle Watt,
on behalf of the ISRR President Prof. Peter Gregory and the ISRR Executive