13th Triennial Meeting of the International Society for Seed Science

An online conference with the theme of seed innovation systems for the 21st century.

Seed diversity - image of lots of different seeds on a black background
Date and time

9 – 13 August 2021
12:30 – 18:00 (UTC+1) Monday – Thursday
09:00 – 13:00 (UTC+1) Friday


Online – Worldwide



Register for ISSS 2021


ISSS Member* £100
Non-member £150
ISSS Student Member*/** £50
Student Non-member** £75
Resident in Low or Lower-Middle Income country*** FREE

*Membership status will be checked. Join the ISSS.

**Students must be currently registered on an under/postgraduate program.

***Countries listed as low or lower-middle income in the World Bank Country and Lending Groups for 2021.

Seeds underpin global agriculture, local sustainable use, plant conservation and the natural regeneration of landscapes.

Therefore, understanding the mechanisms that control seed quality are important for their effective and efficient use in addressing a wide range of societal challenges.  

They are also excellent models on which to explore biosynthesis and signalling pathways, and the adaptive processes in the natural environment relating to evolution and ecological success. 
The theme of the 13th Triennial ISSS Conference, organised by the International Society for Seed Science (ISSS) and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, is ‘Seed innovation systems for the 21st century’.

The programme will cover all aspects of seed science, from the fundamental science underlying seed development, germination, and lifespan through to applied research and the development of cutting-edge technologies that will transform conservation and seed production.

Through a series of invited and contributed lectures, poster sessions and thematic discussions, this world congress aims to review the current state of the art in seed science and develop a roadmap for priority research in the future. 

The International Society for Seed Science (ISSS) is a professional society dedicated to fostering and promoting research, education, and communication in the scientific understanding of seeds.

The triennial conferences are the main, general meeting of the ISSS and attract a global audience of seed scientists from academia and industry. 

Logo for the ISSS conference


There will be keynote, oral and poster presentations across five themed sessions:

  1. Seed memory: how environment influences traits during development
    Seed development is highly sensitive to the maternal environment with subsequent impacts on seed quality traits (longevity, germination, quality/vigour) and internal chemistry. But which molecular and biochemical signalling networks control seed responses, are they quantifiable, do they provide prediction of adjustments to climate change and how long are they imprinted on subsequent seed performance?
  2. Seed life span: the science of maximising survival
    Lowering moisture and temperature is the basis for extending seed lifespan. Except some species produce seeds that are drying sensitive; and for seed that tolerate desiccation, conventional seed storage (dry at -20°C) for the long term is a possibility but not a probability. Changing the physical environment, such as lowering temperature (cryobiotechnology), is one intervention to enhance seed lifespan, but can genes for longevity be understood and manipulated, can survival be chemically extended, and can the physical environment be optimised for each species? Moreover, can a mechanistic understanding of seed desiccation intolerance take us closer to making a recalcitrant seed orthodox for storage?
  3. Seed innovation systems for the 21st century: the future of seed science (local to global)
    The natural traits of the wild relatives of the world’s main crops make them potential sources of genes and adaptive traits for agriculture. Beyond this narrow focus, other species offer exciting possibilities for new medicines, fibre plants, and other uses. But which species are being and should be evaluated for such traits and who owns the intellectual property? For those already identified for potential exploitation, do key policy frameworks help or hinder access to the seed genetic resources around the world; and in any case can the seed supply chain meet the projected long-term sustainable use? For species already in the supply chain rapid developments in ‘omics’ technologies through to large scale, automated production facilities for phenotyping are changing the outlook for seed science research. But looking forward, which innovations are needed soonest, will have the greatest impact on the seed trade and help seed scientists address the greatest society challenges?
  4. Seed form and function: the morphology of success
    “Their problems of form are in the first instance mathematical….and their problems of growth are essentially physical problems” (D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, 1917), so which mathematical and physical rules govern the form and function of seeds across the Plant Kingdom and what insights are revealed about the evolution of seed traits, including dormancy, that might contribute to species success?
  5. Seed germination and stress: environmental thresholds and species resilience
    Seeds commit to germinate over a species-specific or seed lot-specific set of environmental conditions, delimited by thresholds. But when they fail to germinate beyond these thresholds are they dormant, under stress or held in suspended animation; and do such responses tell us something about species resilience and niche competitiveness?

Plenary speakers confirmed:

  • Prof. Richard Ellis, The J. Derek Bewley Career Lecture
  • Prof. Françoise Corbineau, The J. Derek Bewley Career Lecture
  • Prof. Gerhard Leubner, The Alfred Mayer Plenary Lecture
  • Dr Guillaume Née, The Michael Black Founders Lecture

Student Careers Session

A careers session aimed at postgraduate students and early career researchers will be held on Wednesday 11 August.

The session will comprise short informal presentations from a panel representing a range of career stages and sectors, followed by a Q&A session. 

Call for abstracts

Abstracts are invited for presentations across the five themes. Abstract submission is open and the deadline for abstract submission is 28 May 2021

Oral presentations will be 12 minutes with 3 minutes for questions. Abstracts not accepted for an oral presentation may be selected for a lightning talk (5 min inc. questions) or poster presentation (format tbc). 

Please prepare abstracts as follows:

  • Title (maximum of 20 words).
  • List all authors (first name and surname) with presenting author underlined.
  • List affiliation of all authors including Department, Organisation, City and Country as appropriate.
  • Email address for presenting author.
  • Abstract text (maximum of 300 words excluding title, author list and affiliations).
  • Preferred conference theme (1. Seed memory, 2. Seed life span, 3. Seed innovation systems, 4. Seed form and function, 5. Seed germination and stress).
  • Save your file, preferably as .docx, with filename: theme_surname_first name.docx, e.g., 4_smith_jane.docx
  • Send your abstract as an attachment by email to isss2021@kew.org by 17:00 (UTC+1) on 28 May 2021. 

Please read our terms and conditions before submitting an abstract.

Student awards

The ISSS awards travel grants to encourage the participation of students in Society meetings.

As ISSS 2021 will be a virtual meeting, the ISSS will instead award prizes for the best student oral and poster presentations in each theme.

Winners will be selected by the Scientific Committee.

Follow for updates on Twitter

For updates from the International Society for Seed Science please follow @IntlSeedSciSoc.

For updates from Kew Science, please follow @KewScience.

If you are tweeting about the conference, please use the hashtag #ISSS2021.