Newsletter March 2019

Dear Members of the International Society of Root Research,

 We would like to welcome you to our seventh 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: Welcome message by Michelle Watt, new ISRR President

 Dear Past and New members of the ISRR

I am very pleased to be able to write to you all as the new ISRR President, and look forward to serving the international root research community over the coming terms. It is a great honour to be taking over from Peter Gregory, who developed the ISRR to its current level of representing over 700 registered members, and bringing together researchers from around the world in highly recognised meetings every three years. 

The recent ISRR10 meeting in Israel in July 2018 was superb with 330 participants from many countries around the world, further cementing the ISRR meetings as the global meeting of active root scientists. Thank you again to Joni Ephrath, Chair of ISRR2018, and his co-hosts. They have taken things one step further, and provided many of the talks presented at the meeting (and videoed) on a YouTube Channel. Attendees were informed and the wider community was informed via Twitter (@RootScientists). 

It was clear at the ISRR10 meeting that the society has a strong group of junior researchers. As you know, we recognised founding members of the ISRR; Monika Sobotik, Peter Gregory and Alvin Schmucker (profiles on our webside), with the 10th Conference Award in Israel. In particular, they were extremely satisfied to see the high number of junior root scientists in the society. This number has grown in large part because of the Ambassador Program started by John Kirkegaard and Halley Thompson in Canberra in 2015, and continued to an even higher standard in Israel. We now look forward to ISRR11 in Missouri in 2021, to be hosted by Bob Sharp and colleagues.

Here in this message I would like to thank those that stepped down from the ISRR Executive, and welcome the new members to the ISRR Executive, elected as of the General Society meeting in Israel, July 12, 2018. 

To those stepping down, thank you especially to: Alan Richardson, who was the Chair of the 2015 ISRR9 meeting in Canberra, and is now replaced as a co-opted member on the Executive by Joni Ephrath, in the role of current past conference host; and Phillipe Hinsinger, who helped in particular to arrange ISRR meetings to be offset from the well-attended Rhizosphere meetings and thus strengthening the below-ground community. Phillippe is replaced by Matthias Wissuwa, JIRCAS, Japan, who brings an active program in root trait discovery and deployment by breeding into rice, notably in Africa and other low fertility cropping systems. Thank you to Fusuo Zhang, who is replaced by Lixing Yuan, China Agriculture University, Beijing. Lixing and colleagues have already put up their hands to host ISRR12 in 2024, which is excellent news for the ISRR because China has yet to host a meeting. The final voting for the 2024 hosting will take place at the General meeting in 2021 in Missouri, and other nominations can come in until that time. Thank you to Jun Abe for his long and committed service as a vice-president. Jun Abe in particular is thanked for hosting the 2001 ISRR meeting in Nagoya, Japan. Jun Abe is replaced by Yoshaki Inukai, from Nagoya University of Japan, and focused on the plastic responses of roots in changing soil conditions. 

Peter Gregory has kindly agreed to stay on the Executive as a Past Honorary President (as voted in Israel), in the role established when Hans Perrson stepped down. It is very helpful to have the immediate past president on the ISRR Executive for at least the first few years after stepping down. The remaining members of the Executive: Helja-Sisko Helmisaari, Simoneon Materechera, Jonathan Lynch, Natalie Obroucheva, Shigenori Morita, Joseph Dubrovsky and Amelia Henry, were re-elected in Isreal 2018. 

Finally, I am pleased to announce that Uli Mathesius, Australia National University, Canberra, Australia, will take over as Executive Secretary. 

One of the main things that Uli and I will work on is increasing the scientific engagement within and outside the society between ISRR meetings. To do this we are proposing to nominate ISRR Specialists from among society members, that are leaders in growing areas of root research. These Specialists will not be members of the Executive. Rather they will be invited to help build communication about key past and emerging research on hot topics in roots, that can be readily accessed by members and non-members through the ISRR website and other forms of communication. They will be visible in the community and beyond. More on this ISRR Specialist initiative later.

Please note that the Web Site will continue to be hosted from Jülich, with Josefine Kant, Forschungszentrum Jülich, managing content and Newsletters. The Newsletter was on hold as Josefine cares for her new born son. I am also pleased to introduce Ben Delory, University of Lüneburg, Germany. He approached me at the ISRR10 meeting to kindly offer help with ISRR communications and he is now heavily involved with the Twitter account.

Finally, I encourage you all to invite other scientists to join ISRR, and to pass on ideas, jobs, ‘hot topics in root research’, and papers that you would like to include in the Newsletters. For all the latest including images and events in Israel, please see:

Thank you again to retiring Executive members, and to all new members for your upcoming engagement.

Kind regards Michelle


Newsletters back on track

There has been a lack of ISRR newsletters in the last half year that was due to maternity leave of Josefine Kant. Now that she is back the quarterly newsletters will be resumed as before.


 Youtube channel for ISRR10

With permission of speakers, several talks at the ISRR10 in Israel last July were videotaped and are available on youtube. The channel is called ISRR2018 and can be found by following this link.


 Feature publications

  • Freeling et al. 2019: “How can we boost the impact of publications? Try better writing” (
  • Shekoofa & Sinclair 2018: “Aquaporin Activity to Improve Crop Drought Tolerance” (

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


 Some interesting meetings upcoming in the next months

  • Rhizosphere 5 “Shining light on the world beneath our feet” at Saskatoon, Canada from 7-11 July 2019 (conference website)
  • 4th International Brachypodium Conference in Huesca, Spain from 25-28 June 2019 (conference website)
  • 21st International Congress on Nitrogen Fixation in Wuhan, China from 10-15 October, 2019 (conference website)
  • Workshop: Root phenotyping from field to lab. Noble Research Institute, Ardmore, OK, USA. 30 April-1 May, 2019; (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 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 ( 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, ISRR President,

On behalf of the ISRR Executive and Executive Secretary Ulrike Mathesius