Two of our lab members Prof. Jennifer McElwain and Dr. Christos Chondrogiannis had the privilege of attending a Gordons Research Conference (GRC) on the topic of photosynthesis from 7th – 12th of May 2023. The conference took place at Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa, a tranquil estate nestled in the lush hilltops of Tuscany, Italy.

The conference, titled “CO2 Assimilation in Plants from Genome to Biome”, brought together researchers from leading labs, from PhDs making the first steps in their career to famous, well-established researchers of photosynthetic studies. The aim of the conference was to advance frontiers in the field of photosynthesis by showcasing cutting edge and unpublished research on a wide suite of plants, from rare species to widely cultivated crops. The rigorous discussions that happened between researchers informally were a highlight of the event. Fruitful discussions that stretched over lunch and well into the evening led to the genesis of new ideas and future collaborations.

Prof. Jennifer McElwain presented the final talk of the conference, titled ‘Reconstructing Terrestrial Ecosystem Function in Deep Time using Paleo-Plant Traits and Paleo-Ecosystem Modelling’. McElwain discussed the importance of accurate estimates and reconstructions of atmospheric CO2 through deep time. She also presented her idea of paleo-traits, the application of modern plant functional trait ecology within palaeobotany, which will enable reconstruction of plant activity in paleo-environments.

Dr. Christos Chondrogiannis presented a poster titled ‘Photosynthetic rate as a focal trait to assess plant weathering rate across evolutionary groups’, detailing how his chamber experiments aim to establish a correlation between photosynthesis and weathering rates and uncover information on how these processes interact. Chondrogiannis also had the pleasure of attending a workshop on the 6th of May, titled “Photosynthetic efficiency in a changing environment.”