Lateral root formation is a major determinant of root systems architecture. The degree of root branching impacts the efficiency of water uptake, acquisition of nutrients and anchorage by plants. Understanding the regulation of lateral root development is therefore of vital agronomic importance. The molecular and cellular basis of lateral root formation has been most extensively studied in the plant model Arabidopsis thaliana but other models have participated in our understanding of these mechanisms (rice, maize…). Significant progress has recently been made in identifying new Arabidopsis genes that regulate lateral root pre-initiation, initiation, patterning and emergence processes. These progresses are now starting to be translated in crop species (rice, maize, pearl millet for instance).

An international network of collaborators was created about a decade ago, comprising several scientists involved in the field of lateral root development. The original core network comprises Prof. Malcolm Bennett (University of Nottingham, UK), Prof. Tom Beeckman (VIB, Ghent, Belgium) and Dr. Laurent Laplaze (IRD, Montpellier). This network has resulted in the creation of numerous collaborative projects, transfer of students and young researchers across labs, fundamental advances and subsequent high impact publications. This network is continuously evolving and new young research leaders are joining on a regular basis (for instance Prof. Joop Vermeer, University of Zürich, Switzerland and Dr. Alexis Maizel, COS Heidelberg, Germany) as well as renowned scientists (Prof. Ben Scheres, Wageningen University Research, Netherlands).

The aim of the Lateral Root Workshop 2017 was to incorporate students and young researchers into this research network to secure its vitality and future success. We invited 20 speakers (amongst which 12 PhD student, 6 post-docs and 2 Japanese PI) to give short presentations and we allowed plenty of time for discussions between the 64 participants, including a very appreciated wine and cheese session ! We were very happy to be able to host Japanese colleagues Prof. Hidehiro Fukaki (Kobe university, Japan) and Dr. Tatsuaki Goh (NAIST, Japan). The meeting was jointly organized by Benjamin PERET (CNRS, UMR BPMP) and Laurent LAPLAZE (IRD, UMR DIADE).