Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy

IUFRO Tree Biotechnology 2015 Conference

There is a growing worldwide demand for wood and biomass in response to the needs of the society (paper, energy, etc.), and therefore we are witnessing an increase in forest plantations of high productivity (e.g. poplar and eucalyptus). The latest developments in biotechnology applications will contribute to meeting the global demands of the society by helping to preserve the natural forests and reducing deforestation of large forest areas important for the ecosystem preservation.
The IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference is held every two years and is the official meeting of the IUFRO Working Group 2.04.06 (Molecular biology of forest trees). The year 2015 is the thirtieth anniversary of its initial gathering in 1985 in the U.S. (Avon Lake, Ohio), and for the first time organized in Italy, returning to Europe after 8 years. 
This conference has brought together academics, scientists, public and private institutions of international, national and regional, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders to discuss all aspects of biotechnology and biosafety of forest trees. 
The “IUFRO Tree Biotechnology” has offered a unique opportunity to share information and experiences, and to engage in an open and meaningful dialogue on the state of research.
The main theme of the conference was “Forests: the importance to the planet and society” and how to preserve it in the light of global climate change to meet the growing demands of society for sustainable resources, renewable energy and biomass production.
In view of this, four main topics and related thematics have been selected for the IUFRO Tree Biotechnology 2015 Conference: 1) Tree Genomics and Climate Change (Comparative genomics, Genome sequencing and evolution, Genomes of climate/environmental change adaptation, Associating genes with traits, Epigenetics); 2) Tree ecosystem, biodiversity, conservation and environment interactions (Ecosystem and gene conservation, genetic resources, Tree-microbe interactions, Tree-soil interactions, Tree-environment interactions); 3) Tree Biotechnology: molecular understanding of tree growth and development and applications for tree improvement (Molecular understanding of tree growth and development, Genomic selection and other new breeding strategies, Transcriptomics and metabolomics, Transgenesis, cisgenic and intragenic trees, In vitro culture, Phytoremediation); 4) Biosafety: environmental risk assessment, monitoring and management, and socio-economic implications (Field trials with GM trees in the world, Environmental impact assessment and monitoring of GMTs, Management strategies, Socio-economic implications in relation to the use of GMTs: concerns and acceptance by the public).
This conference has been a unique and timely opportunity focusing on the current social and environmental issues and knowledge gaps related to the status of research, and to the development of new technologies. This implies a dynamic discussion on the intersection of science, regulatory and policy guidelines and society, which has been an innovative session of the Congress in which socio-economic studies related to biotechnology and regulatory issues have been reported and discussed.
With about 300 registered participants from 40 countries, the Conference brought to Italy most of the bright scientists in the field of forest genetics and biotechnology. An outstanding team of international scientists shared their results, idea and discussed the current state and future of research in genetics, genomics and biotechnology in the forestry. 
During the five days of the Conference 9 invited lectures, 63 oral and 159 poster presentations were delivered for a total of 231 papers, and a selection of them will be published soon in a book.
Two special workshops on the important topics "Advancements in Conifer Genomics" and “Metagenomics of the tree microbiome” have been organized within the conference by European Projects ProCogen and EVOLTREE, respectively. 
In closing this summary, acknowledgements are due to privated sponsors who provided financial support.  
A special thank is due to a very competent and active Scientific Committee involved in abstract review.
The conference would not have been possible without the valuable contributions of all these figures and in particular to all the attendees the conference.

Cristina Vettori -