Life-sciences go through a number of data challenges that force the scientific community to rethink many aspects of data management. To encounter these challenges and to share data amongst European researchers, the ELIXIR initiative was launched. ELIXIR is an intergovernmental organisation that brings together life-science resources from across Europe. It coordinates, integrates and sustains bioinformatics resources across its member states and enables users in academia and industry to access vital services for their research. Belgium recently joined ELIXIR as a full member. The Belgian ELIXIR node is coordinated by Frederik Coppen (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology).

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Researchers from VIB-UGent have discovered a gene that significantly increases plant growth and seed yield in maize. Research into crop yield is crucial because of the increasing incidence of extreme weather conditions affecting agriculture. The results from laboratory research were confirmed during two-year field trials conducted in Belgium and the United States showing that this gene can increase seed yield in maize hybrids by 10 to 15%. The results of the greenhouse and field trials are published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

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The 2016 Editors' choice of Nature – category Genomics – goes to ‘The genome of the seagrass Zostera marina reveals angiosperm adaptation to the sea’. This is a publication of an international research team co-led by Yves Van de Peer (VIB - UGent) and Jeanine Olsen (GELIFES, University of Groningen).

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The genomics revolution has been steering plant life sciences for more than a decade now. At the VIB Conference 'At the Forefront of Plant Research' participants have the opportunity to reflect and look ahead to new opportunities on the horizonThe aim of this conference, taking place on June 15-16, 2017 at the Zebrastraat in Ghent, is to unite leaders from a wide range of pioneering research topics, to give a glimpse of where plant science will lead us to in the coming decade.

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