On January 23, 2020, Berkeley Lab hosted a workshop on opportunities afforded by single-cell technologies for energy and environmental science, as well as conceptual and technological grand challenges that must be tackled to apply these powerful approaches to plants, fungi and algae. This event brought together a diverse group of leaders in functional genomics technologies from academia, the National Laboratories, and local research institutions.
The workshop included presentations and breakout sessions to explore applications of single-cell technology, including: powering higher-resolution studies of plant responses to environmental stimuli; improving the functional annotation of genes across tissues and species; and optimizing bioproduct and biomaterial production. Attendees expressed overwhelming support for the creation of a centralized, open-access database to house plant single-cell data, analogous to the Human Cell Atlas, and considered how such an effort should balance the need for deep characterization of a few important model species while still capturing the broader diversity in the plant kingdom.
The organizing committee was chaired by Diane Dickel, staff scientist in the Environmental Genomics and Systems Biology Division. Additional committee members were Ben Cole, Rex Malmstrom, Jenny Mortimer, Chris Mungall, Ronan O’Malley, and Axel Visel.
The workshop report is available for download; a peer-reviewed Perspectives article was published in Communications Biology.