The International Conference on Arabidopsis Research, ICAR, is a yearly conference centered on all aspects of modern plant biology using Arabidopsis thaliana as a model system. The conference regularly brings together over 800 scientists from all corners of the world to discuss all aspects of molecular plant science from research on plant growth and development to improving plant tolerance to adverse environmental conditions.
In 2018, the ICAR conference is for the first time organised in northern Europe. The conference will be held in Turku in June 25–29, and the organisation team for consists of scientists from the universities of Helsinki and Turku, as well as Oulu.
"Finland traditionally has strong plant breeding programs in government research centers. Molecular plant biology is a thematic focus in the University of Helsinki where we are concentrating on plant development and plant responses to the environment. The research in the University of Oulu focuses on population studies, and the University of Turku has its emphasis on photosynthesis research," explains the chair of the organising committee, Dr Michael Wrzaczek from the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences.
As to model systems, Arabidopsis thaliana is the plant scientists' equivalent of fruit fly. Its genome sequence was solved for more than 15 years ago and it has become all the more important when scientists want to find out how plants really develope and function.
"With the help of this genetically well-known model plant we can speed up and facilitate many processes that might otherwise take years and years in, for example, crop plants. Arabidopsis is a gateway to a lot of things, even though technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 have emerged," Michael Wrzaczek says.
The International Conference on Arabidopsis Research is a yearly conference rotating between North America, Australasia and Europe. The ICAR2017 is held in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.