Plant Molecular Biology 38: v–vi, 1998.
On the ﬁrst of October 1998, Prof. Robert A. Schilperoort, the founding editor and Editor-in-Chief of Plant
Molecular Biology will resign from the Editorial Board. The Publishers and the International Society for Plant
Molecular Biology are very pleased to announce that Prof. Stephen H. Howell, Cornell University (USA) will be
the new Editor-in-Chief.
In the late 70s and early 80s very good prospects emerged for the development of plant molecular biology
research. In particular M.D. Chilton’s work proving for the ﬁrst time Agrobacterium transfer of DNA into plants
and thatof J.Schell and R.A.Schilperoort ontransformation contributedsubstantiallyto the further advancementof
plant molecular biologyresearch.Based on theseimportantbreakthroughsit couldbe expectedthatplant molecular
biology research would become increasingly important as well as become a research discipline in its own right.
When representatives of Kluwer Academic Publishers (imprint Martinus Nijhoff/Junk Publishers) and Rob
Schilperoort ﬁrst met in 1979, Rob very convincingly predicted the exponential growth of this ﬁeld of science.
Based on cautious market research this prediction was conﬁrmed as well as the potential need for a new scientiﬁc
journalPlant MolecularBiology. Consequently, PlantMolecular Biologywas announcedas anewquarterlyjournal
Due to the small research volume in the early 80s, it was not very easy to receive sufﬁcient high quality
publications to even publish a small-sized quarterly journal on time. The ﬁrst issue of Plant Molecular Biology
was published in November 1981, instead of March 1981.
Concurrent to this development, Leon Dure and Rob Schilperoort established the International Society for
Plant Molecular Biology in 1982. It was thought that both the journal and ISPMB would beneﬁt from a close
collaboration. After discussions with Dick Flavell (ﬁrst President of the ISPMB) an agreement was reached and as
from that time Plant Molecular Biology is published in cooperation with the ISPMB.
In addition to Rob Schilperoort’s international activities to coordinate plant molecular biology research, he
remained an active researcher and successful author of several articles published in Nature. One of these described
the development of the binary vector system by the group of Schilperoort and Hooykaas. Even today this system
is used worldwide as the most convenient plant vector system.
In the mid 80s, Dutch Government was quite skeptical regarding its support of biotechnology research. As
a real ambassador Rob Schilperoort showed the Dutch Government the enormous prospects basic biotechnology
research and its applications could offer society if well funded. As a consequence, the granting situation in The
Netherlands improved in the late 80s.
In the meantime, Plant Molecular Biology prospered very well. The inﬂux of articles submitted for publication
showed double digits growth in the 80s.
Due to a strict editorial policy, the quality of the journal improved substantially and soon Plant Molecular
Biology was covered by Current Contents-Life Sciences. We were also able to increase the size and frequency of
the journal in 1985. In later years, the frequency of the journal has been increased many times. Presently, it is
published in 18 issues per year.
As RobSchilperoortwas so close to grass rootlevel research, hewas ableto keep thegrowthof Plant Molecular
Biology in step with the growth and developments of this ﬁeld of research.
This was clearly demonstrated in 1992 when the ﬁrst special issue ‘10 year Plant Molecular Biology’ was pub-
lished. This special issue contained authoritative reviews on genetic engineering, gene expression, plant-pathogen
and plant-symbiont interactions, transposons, plant embryogenesis and organ development, and functioning of
organelles. After the publication of this special issue it was decided to aim to publish one special issue per year to
provide the readers with a state-of-the-art of special areas. Special issues on signal transduction, rice and protein
transport have been published whilst several more special issues are under consideration.