Plant science decadal vision 2020–2030: Reimagining the potential of plants for a healthy and sustainable future

Natalie Henkhaus, Madelaine Bartlett, David Gang, Rebecca Grumet, Ingrid Jordon-Thaden, Argelia Lorence, Eric Lyons, Samantha Miller, Seth Murray, Andrew Nelson, Chelsea Specht, Brett Tyler, Thomas Wentworth, David Ackerly, David Baltensperger, Philip Benfey, James Birchler, Sreekala Chellamma, Roslyn Crowder, Michael DonoghueJose Pablo Dundore-Arias, Jacqueline Fletcher, Valerie Fraser, Kelly Gillespie, Lonnie Guralnick, Elizabeth Haswell, Mitchell Hunter, Shawn Kaeppler, Stefan Kepinski, Fay Wei Li, Sally Mackenzie, Lucinda McDade, Ya Min, Jennifer Nemhauser, Brian Pearson, Peter Petracek, Katie Rogers, Ann Sakai, Delanie Sickler, Crispin Taylor, Laura Wayne, Ole Wendroth, Felipe Zapata, David Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Plants, and the biological systems around them, are key to the future health of the planet and its inhabitants. The Plant Science Decadal Vision 2020–2030 frames our ability to perform vital and far-reaching research in plant systems sciences, essential to how we value participants and apply emerging technologies. We outline a comprehensive vision for addressing some of our most pressing global problems through discovery, practical applications, and education. The Decadal Vision was developed by the participants at the Plant Summit 2019, a community event organized by the Plant Science Research Network. The Decadal Vision describes a holistic vision for the next decade of plant science that blends recommendations for research, people, and technology. Going beyond discoveries and applications, we, the plant science community, must implement bold, innovative changes to research cultures and training paradigms in this era of automation, virtualization, and the looming shadow of climate change. Our vision and hopes for the next decade are encapsulated in the phrase reimagining the potential of plants for a healthy and sustainable future. The Decadal Vision recognizes the vital intersection of human and scientific elements and demands an integrated implementation of strategies for research (Goals 1–4), people (Goals 5 and 6), and technology (Goals 7 and 8). This report is intended to help inspire and guide the research community, scientific societies, federal funding agencies, private philanthropies, corporations, educators, entrepreneurs, and early career researchers over the next 10 years. The research encompass experimental and computational approaches to understanding and predicting ecosystem behavior; novel production systems for food, feed, and fiber with greater crop diversity, efficiency, productivity, and resilience that improve ecosystem health; approaches to realize the potential for advances in nutrition, discovery and engineering of plant-based medicines, and "green infrastructure." Launching the Transparent Plant will use experimental and computational approaches to break down the phytobiome into a "parts store" that supports tinkering and supports query, prediction, and rapid-response problem solving. Equity, diversity, and inclusion are indispensable cornerstones of realizing our vision. We make recommendations around funding and systems that support customized professional development. Plant systems are frequently taken for granted therefore we make recommendations to improve plant awareness and community science programs to increase understanding of scientific research. We prioritize emerging technologies, focusing on non-invasive imaging, sensors, and plug-and-play portable lab technologies, coupled with enabling computational advances. Plant systems science will benefit from data management and future advances in automation, machine learning, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence-assisted data integration, pattern identification, and decision making. Implementation of this vision will transform plant systems science and ripple outwards through society and across the globe. Beyond deepening our biological understanding, we envision entirely new applications. We further anticipate a wave of diversification of plant systems practitioners while stimulating community engagement, underpinning increasing entrepreneurship. This surge of engagement and knowledge will help satisfy and stoke people's natural curiosity about the future, and their desire to prepare for it, as they seek fuller information about food, health, climate and ecological systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00252
JournalPlant Direct
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
A community vision should be both informative and influential. The 2013 document was successful in highlighting the need to invest in plant phenomics, at that time still in its infancy. Today, the plant phenomics community has an annual meeting, a scientific journal, and its own community network (Carroll et al., 2019 ). A chapter of the 2013 Decadal Vision focused on the need to provide training in transferable skills, or T‐training, called attention to the need to complement disciplinary research skills for early career scientists. Five years later, many training opportunities, including technical internships and leadership workshops, have been integrated into graduate programs and made available at scientific society annual meetings. The National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship program (2014) and the National Institutes of Health Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training program (2013) incorporate similar concepts and promote broad career exploration. In addition, the 2014–2018 National Plant Genome Initiative (NSTC, 2014 ) drew on the 2013 Decadal Vision as one of its sources to develop a strategic plan for facilitating and funding genomics research in plants.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Plant Direct published by American Society of Plant Biologists and the Society for Experimental Biology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • research areas
  • research methods
  • research organisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Plant Science


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