Knowledge of seed biology is advancing rapidly, particularly in model systems that allow the integration of genetic, genomic, metabolic, molecular, and biophysical approaches. At the same time, the demands upon seeds in agriculture are increasing. “Translational” seed biology is the effort to capitalize on this expanding fundamental knowledge to develop applications for the improvement of seeds as genetic delivery systems for crop production, as end products for food and diverse uses, and as storage materials for germplasm preservation. Bringing together fundamental (i.e., model-systems oriented) and applied (i.e., crop-systems oriented) plant scientists to share their results, challenges and insights will facilitate the transfer of knowledge from proofs of concept into agricultural and commercial applications. Model systems can also inform ecological applications of seed biology, such as using knowledge of seed dormancy mechanisms in management of weedy or invasive species. Similarly, studies of the biophysics of dry systems and desiccation tolerance mechanisms in model systems can translate into better ways to preserve and store germplasm as seeds.

      The ability to modify seeds with specific developmental and compositional changes provides enormous potential to meet the growing global demand for food, but only if those discoveries can be adapted to the biological requirements of seeds as propagules and the pragmatic and economic demands of the marketplace. Thus, the objective of this symposium is to bring together leading public- and private-sector scientists across all aspects of seed biology in a format that emphasizes the connections between fundamental discoveries and their applications in agriculture. Crop scientists will be motivated by the progress being made in model systems, and basic scientists will gain an appreciation of the challenges associated with bringing a concept into practice. A further objective of the symposium is to identify high priority challenges or opportunities that can be targeted by complementary research in model systems, crops and ecological settings. This focus on translational seed biology will demonstrate how public and private funding of fundamental work in model systems is being applied to benefit producers, consumers and the environment, particularly for applications in the regions of the world where the needs are greatest.

      We invite you to join a distinguished group of speakers and participants at this inaugural symposium of an annual series to be sponsored in part by the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis. The symposium is also a project of USDA-CSREES Regional Research Project W-1168, “Environmental and Genetic Determinants of Seed Quality and Performance.” Join us in recognizing the advances that have been made in seed biology and in identifying the remaining challenges to be explored.

Kent J. Bradford and John J. Harada, UC Davis

Co-Chairs and the Organizing Committee:

Bruce Downie, University of Kentucky
David Ellis, USDA-ARS, National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation
Peggy Lemaux, UC Berkeley
Mitch McGrath, USDA-ARS, Michigan State University
Hiro Nonogaki, Oregon State University