Aims of the Plant Sulfur Network:
The aim the Plant Sulfur Network was to broaden, to integrate and to strengthening research on 'Managing Sulfur Metabolism in Plants', 'Sustainable Development', 'Global Change and Ecosystems' and 'Food Quality and Safety'. This was implemented by regular scientific meetings covering different the actual relevant topics of plant sulfur research including workshops focused on post genomic technologies and plant sulfur nutrition, engineering quality, cross-talk of metabolic pathways interacting with sulfur, managing sulfur nutrition, diagnosing sulfur deficiency, sulfur in plants and stress responses, push-pull regulation of sulfur assimilation pathways, (global) regulators of sulfur metabolism, interaction between sulfur and nitrogen metabolism.
Sulfur is an important nutrient for plant growth and health. Optimizing its assimilation into the many compounds involved in specific aspects of metabolism as well as coordinating its incorporation into amino acids and proteins by balancing availability and sink demands requires a complex network of interacting aspects of plant metabolism. Furthermore sulfur pools are managed, mobilized and distributed through development to optimize fecundity. Understanding the underlying mechanisms at the gene, cellular and whole plant level may enable us to produce crops with improved quality and resistance to stress. As a paradigm for nutritional management, ideas concerning sulfur fertilizers and their efficient use may be helpful for optimizing fertilizer use efficiency in general.
The Plant Sulfur Network was the follow-up of COST Action 829 on “Fundamental, Agronomical and Environmental Aspects of Sulfur Nutrition and Assimilation in Plants”, which was initiated to coordinate European research on plant sulfur metabolism order to strengthen European research on agrobiology and active during the period 1997 - 2003. This Action was initiated and coordinated by Luit J. De Kok (chairman) and Ineke Stulen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, Christian Brunold, University of Bern, Switzerland, Dieter Grill, University of Graz, Austria, Malcolm J. Hawkesford, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, U.K. and Ewald Schnug, JKI, Braunschweig, Germany. In COST Action 829, the knowledge on the molecular/biochemical, physiological, agronomical and environmental aspects of sulfur uptake and utilization by plants has been integrated. The Action has resulted in a close cooperation between more than 50 European research groups, providing expertise from different disciplines in plant research. Research topics in this multidisciplinary research project were to evaluate: i) The regulatory aspects of sulfur uptake and assimilation in plants in relation to the metabolic need for growth. ii)The interaction of pedospheric and atmospheric sulfur nutrition in plants. iii) The route and efficiency of uptake and metabolism of various forms of sulfur-containing fertilizers by plants. iv) Plant sulfur metabolism and food quality. v) The relation between plant sulfur status and its resistance to environmental stress and pests. A short description of the research topics of the participating groups has been published in a special journal issue: De Kok, L.J., Brunold C., Grill, D., Hawkesford, M.J., Schnug, E. and Stulen, I. 2000. Plant Sulfur Research in Europe: COST Action 829; Fundamental, Agronomical and Environmental Aspects of Sulfur Nutrition and Assimilation in Plants. Landbauforschung Völkenrode: Sonderheft 218, FAL, Braunschweig, ISBN 3-933140-40-4 (see below).