Root Experts to Instruct 5-Day Root Biology Summer Course in Orlando

Climate change, soil degradation and biotic and abiotic stresses on crop roots present unprecedented challenges to agriculture and the health of agroecosystems. During the last few decades, pioneering plant root biology scientists began to understand the role of roots in healthy crops. Today, laboratory techniques to study environmental stimuli and machine learning are now available to growers.

From Aug. 11 to Aug. 16, international graduate students will have an opportunity to interface with renowned plant root scientists who will instruct a course, “Linking Root Architecture to Function: Theory, Methods, and Technology.” The short, accelerated, five-day course will take place at the Marriott Village Orlando, at Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida.

The course structure will begin with a plenary lecture presented by David Eissenstat from Pennsylvania State University, who is widely known for root ecology and plant ecophysiology. In the following days, Erin Sparks from the University of Delaware will present a topic related to sensing root structure and function, while Jonathan Lynch, also from Pennsylvania State University, will discuss data analysis and crop adaptation to adverse conditions. Daniel Sabo, representing Georgia Institute of Technology, will present novel technologies for sensing environmental stress and root condition. Evan Johnson, representing the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, will lead field and greenhouse visits. On the final day, Amanda Rasmussen from the University of Nottingham, in the United Kingdom, will conclude the course with a presentation, “Next Steps in Sensing Root Function.”

Other course activities will include defining root structure and architecture; guided discussions and group activities; hands-on data analysis and concluding with presentations on team projects during the final course night.

Leading the course are four UF/IFAS faculty members: Lorenzo Rossi of the Plant Root Science Consortium and assistant professor of plant root biology at the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center; Diane Rowland of the UF/IFAS Center for Stress Resilient Agriculture; Elias Bassil, whose expertise is molecular plant stress physiology, and who represents the UF/IFAS Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead; and Alina Zare, from UF’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and who heads the Machine Learning and Sensing Lab.

“Scientists work collaboratively to solve tough issues in science,” Rossi said. “For the new course, Linking Root Architecture to Function: Theory, Methods, and Technology, leading experts and graduate students who will lead the discipline tomorrow will be together to exchange ideas and work to advance agricultural production through healthy root architectures.”

Preregistration is required. Space is limited and available on a first come, first serve basis. Those interested in joining the course may contact the Center for Stress Resilient Agriculture at or visit the webpage:




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Posted: June 24, 2019

Category: Agribusiness, Agriculture, Crops, Horticulture, UF/IFAS,

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