NEWS FROM THE EMBO COMMUNITY Fascination of plants – a worldwide day of celebration Plants provide the air we breathe, the food we eat and the clothes we wear, as well as enhancing our lives with their beauty. From Hungary to Japan, Bulgaria to Australia, people and organiza- tions all around the world will celebrate 18 MAY 2012 as the day of plants. Organized under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organization (EPSO), Fascination of Plants Day aims to get as many people as possible – farmers, gardeners, children, students, scientists, politicians and journal- ists – fascinated by plants and enthused about their importance. “We want to show all the different aspects of plants,” says EPSO Executive Director, Karin Metzlaff. “They have such a huge role in our lives, in plant science, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, chemicals, energy, pharmaceuticals and the environment.” EPSO is coordinating Fascination of Plants Day (FoPD), but encourages coun- tries to nominate a national coordinator to help them with logistics. So far, 29 countries and more than 70 organizations have regis- tered to host events on 18 May. EPSO has Hippuris stem stained for β-glucans EPSO’s mission is to ➔ Promote plant science and scientists ➔ Represent plant scientists in discussions about future plant science programme priorities across Europe ➔ Provide an authoritative source of independent information on plant science ➔ Promote training of plant scientists to meet twenty-first century challenges in breeding, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, plant ecology and sectors related to plant science FoP facts & figures 250,000 plant species 28,000 plant researchers and staff belong to EPSO membership 3,000 personal EPSO members 227 research institutes and universities represented by EPSO 56 UK institutions already signed up for FoPD 29 countries signed up for FoPD 13 Portuguese institutions already signed up 12 German institutions already signed up 3 countries outside of Europe signed up 1 country – Australia – plans a YouTube competition for FoPD prepared a public relations toolkit, with logos, PowerPoint presentations, flyers and downloadable photographs that anyone can use to promote their Fascination of Plants Day celebrations. EMBO Members organize FoPDs Chiara Tonelli is part of the organizing committee for FoPD in Milan, where large public meetings will be held, including a maxi-screen to highlight the importance of plants and plant- related research for society. Caroline Dean of the John Innes Centre says her institute will host an Evening with Plant Scientists, moderated by BBC presenter Sue Nelson, followed by a FoPD for schools, while Jonathan Jones of the Sainsbury Laboratory will be talking to schools about the field trial of genetically modified potatoes. “What we want to emphasise,” says Karin,“ is that everybody is welcome to join in. People should contact their National Coordinator via the website, contact me or EPSO Coordinator Jan-Wolfhard Kellmann to discuss and access our FoPD corporate design toolkit.“ See the website for more details: 12 EMBOencounters | Winter 2011|2012 | ©2012 EMBO Image by Olivier Leroux, National University of Ireland