13th Triennial Meeting of the International Society for Seed Science

Seed innovation systems for the 21st century.

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

We regret to inform you that due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation we have decided to postpone the ISSS 2020 general meeting to 2021.

We thank all of you who have supported the meeting so far. Please get in touch with the conference organisers (isss2020@kew.org) if you have already registered for the meeting or require further information.
The dates for the meeting will be announced here in due course.

We hope that you can join us in the UK in 2021.

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. The 13th Triennial Conference will return to the UK 25 years since the last triennial meeting was held in Reading in 1995.

The theme of the 13th Triennial Conference is ‘Seed innovation systems for the 21st century’ and the program 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 the future outlook for seed science.

Date and time

2021 dates TBC


University of Sussex, Brighton

The campus is nine minutes by train from Brighton, a city renowned for its beach, pier, markets, art, politics and music. Brighton is only 30 minutes by train from Gatwick Airport and connects easily to Heathrow Airport, either by bus or by train via London. 

Registration fees

Prices vary. Registration fees include opening reception, lunches and dinners from Monday evening to Friday lunchtime, conference dinner, refreshments throughout the conference, excursion to either Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew or Wakehurst, and conference materials. 


There will be three full days of oral presentations across six 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
    Conventional seed storage (dry at -20C) 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? 
  3. Seeds and society – local innovation systems and species added value
    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? And for those already identified for potential exploitation, do key policy frameworks help or hinder access to the genetic resources around the world; and in any case can the seed supply chain meet the projected long-term sustainable use?
  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?
  6. Seed innovation systems for the 21st century – the future of seed science
    Rapid developments in ‘omics’ technologies through to large scale, automated production facilities for phenotyping are changing the outlook for seed science research. 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?

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


If you would like to sponsor the conference or require further information about our sponsorship packages, please contact Louise Colville (l.colville@kew.org).

Follow 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 #ISSS2020.

blue square with ISSS

Data protection 

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, will use your personal data for the purposes of managing and processing your travel grant and/or abstract submission, including for record keeping and enquiry purposes. Please take time to read our Privacy Policy which explains in more detail what data we collect and why, how we use it and other information relevant to the privacy of your data. If you have any questions, or wish to access a copy of your submission, please contact l.colville@kew.org.