Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Plant Direct. 2022;6:e406.


This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License,


The Plant Cell Atlas (PCA) community hosted a virtual symposium on December 9 and 10, 2021 on single cell and spatial omics technologies. The conference gathered almost 500 academic, industry, and government leaders to identify the needs and directions of the PCA community and to explore how establishing a data synthesis center would address these needs and accelerate progress. This report details the presentations and discussions focused on the possibility of a data synthesis center for a PCA and the expected impacts of such a center on advancing science and technology globally. Community discussions focused on topics such as data analysis tools and annotation standards; computational expertise and cyber-infrastructure; modes of community organization and engagement; methods for ensuring a broad reach in the PCA community; recruitment, training, and nurturing of new talent; and the overall impact of the PCA initiative. These targeted discussions facilitated dialogue among the participants to gauge whether PCA might be a vehicle for formulating a data synthesis center. The conversations also explored how online tools can be leveraged to help broaden the reach of the PCA (i.e., online contests, virtual networking, and social media stakeholder engagement) and decrease costs of conducting research (e.g., virtual REU opportunities). Major recommendations for the future of the PCA included establishing standards, creating dashboards for easy and intuitive access to data, and engaging with a broad community of stakeholders. The discussions also identified the following as being essential to the PCA’s success: identifying homologous cell-type markers and their biocuration, publishing datasets and computational pipelines, utilizing online tools for communication (such as Slack), and user-friendly data visualization and data sharing. In conclusion, the development of a data synthesis center will help the PCA community achieve these goals by providing a centralized repository for existing and new data, a platform for sharing tools, and new analytical approaches through collaborative, multidisciplinary efforts. A data synthesis center will help the PCA reach milestones, such as community-supported data evaluation metrics, accelerating plant research necessary for human and environmental health.