Between 21 and 25 September 2009, Krakow hosted the 4th Conference of the Polish Society of Experimental Plant Biology, co-organized with the Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, and supported by the Biochemical Society. The aim of the conference was to present and discuss the most important topics in different disciplines of plant experimental science as well as to facilitate the interaction and co-operation between scientists. To achieve this goal, about 30 top specialists in various areas of plant biology were invited to give plenary lectures in the following sessions: Plant structure and development; Plant–microbial interactions; Mitochondria and chloroplasts in cell metabolism; Stress tolerance in plants; Structural and functional organization of plant genomes; Mutants in developmental and metabolic studies; Secondary metabolites as pharmaceutics and nutraceutics; Plant membranes; and Integrating plant functions via signalling molecules: molecular mechanisms. Some of the main problems highlighted in the plenary lectures are briefly summarized in the present paper. Two poster sessions enabled a discussion of over 200 posters presented. The conference had an international character, its official language was English, and among the more than 350 participants, about 60 were from abroad. Several plenary lectures were prepared as short review papers and they are published in this issue of Biochemical Society Transactions.

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