Marcelo Simon (Embrapa Cenargen, Brazil)
Tania Moura (Instituto Federal Goiano, Brazil)
On behalf of the 8ILC Organizing Committee

The ILC is a series of international conferences focused on the legume family. It encompasses a wide range of topics, including but not limited to systematics, evolution, biogeography, morphology, ecology, biological nitrogen fixation, and genomics. Since the first conference back in 1978, the ILC has consolidated itself as an international event with significant participation of researchers from different countries and continents, including a considerable proportion of students. The ILC has promoted substantial advances in scientific knowledge about legumes. One of the aims of this event is to promote collaboration between researchers worldwide, which for example resulted in the creation of the Legume Phylogeny Working Group (LPWG). This year, for the first time, the ILC was held in Brazil, a country renowned for its extraordinary biological diversity including a dizzying tally of legume genera and species, as well as cultural diversity, and as home to a vibrant community of legume researchers.

The 8th International Legume Conference (8ILC) took place from 6th to 11th of August 2023 in Pirenópolis, one of the most charming towns in the heart of the savanna landscapes of the Cerrado biodiversity hotspot. The global legume community was well-represented in Pirenópolis, with 147 participants hailing from 18 countries, spanning diverse institutions and nationalities. Particularly noteworthy was the substantial presence of students among the attendees, underscoring the promising role the new generation is playing in advancing legume science. It is also worth mentioning that approximately 40% of all participants and keynote speakers were women, highlighting our efforts towards attaining gender equality in science.

Group photo of the 8ILC in Pirenópolis, August 2023, photo by Adilson Werneck.

The 8ILC was centered around the theme of “Integrating knowledge on the legume family”. At the opening ceremony, Dr. Marcelo Simon (Chairperson of the 8ILC) addressed the conference by welcoming all delegates. Then, Professor Fabio Scarano (Univ. Federal do Rio de Janeiro) delivered an inspiring opening keynote talk “Legumes and futures: dialogues between different ways of knowing”, which was followed by a cheerful reception.

Left to right: Opening speech at the 8ILC, photo by Gustavo Shimizu. Welcome cocktail at the 8ILC, photo by Adilson Werneck.

The 8ILC scientific program featured a total of 126 presentations, including invited keynote talks, contributed oral presentations, and posters, distributed among eight main symposia: (i) Assembling global checklists and floras of legumes; (ii) Advances in legume morphology and anatomy; (iii) Updates in legume systematics; (iv) Legumes and society: genetic resources, uses and conservation; (v) Legume research in the era of genomics; (vi) Animals and legumes: from mutualistic to antagonistic interactions; (vii) Legumes as a model for biogeography, macroecology, and evolution; and (viii) Novelties in legume-rhizobia symbiosis: a tribute to Janet Sprent. Most of the symposia were opened by a keynote speaker from outside the legume community, bringing new perspectives and ideas from current research on other plant families or in a global context. Then, a second keynote talk by a legume expert covered the general subject of the symposium with a focus on the legume family, which was followed by a series of contributed oral presentations.

Poster session at the 8ILC, photo by Gustavo Shimizu.

The 8ILC Organizing Committee took the opportunity of hosting the conference in Brazil to pay tribute and make awards to seven Brazilian legume researchers: Ana Maria Goulart de Azevedo Tozzi (Universidade Estadual de Campinas), Angela Maria Studart da Fonseca Vaz (Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro), Haroldo Cavalcante de Lima (Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro), José Francisco Montenegro Valls (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária), Luciano Paganucci de Queiroz (Universidade Estadual de Feira de Santana), Marli Pires Morim (Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro), Silvia Teresinha Sfoggia Miotto (Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul), who have contributed significantly to advancing knowledge about the legume family throughout their careers, by publishing widely on the systematics and phylogenetics of the family and by teaching and mentoring the next generation of legume scientists. Three plant collectors, Glocimar Pereira da Silva (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária), Maria Lenise Silva Guedes (Universidade Federal da Bahia), and Vinicius Castro Souza (Universidade de São Paulo/ESALQ), each having collected more than 3,000 legume numbers, were also celebrated during the special ceremony, which was presented by Dr. Gwilym Lewis. The awardees were each presented with a certificate and a trophy in recognition of their widely appreciated and impressive contributions to legume science. The 8ILC also dedicated one symposium to the career of Janet Sprent, a global authority on nodulation in legumes.

Celebrating the work of Brazilian leguminologists – a Ceremony recognising ten outstanding people at the 8ILC, photo by Adilson Werneck.

Conference attendees had the opportunity to unwind and savor the beauty of a natural reserve during a field excursion, where they strolled through the unique Cerrado vegetation, observed a number of interesting and/or endemic legume species of the Brazilian flora, and indulged in refreshing swims beneath cascading waterfalls despite the cold water! Later that evening, the conference party provided a delightful experience, complete with live music and dancing, adding a memorable touch to the day’s events.

Field excursion to the Salto Corumbá waterfall during the conference break, photo by Adilson Werneck.

Before the closing ceremony, the conference opened a discussion of proposals to host the next 9ILC in Kunming, China, or in Edinburgh, Scotland, as kindly offered and nicely presented by Professor Tingshuang Yi and Professor Toby Pennington, respectively. Although a final decision about this was not taken during the conference in Pirenópolis, we are all excited about our forthcoming meeting in the next few years to delve deeper into the frontiers of legume science.

A selection of works presented at the 8ILC will be part of the series Advances in Legume Systematics (volume 15), which will be published as a special issue of the Brazilian Journal of Botany in 2024 ( Papers not presented at the 8ILC, but within the various research topics involving legume science, are also being considered for publication in the same special issue.

In summary, the 8ILC proved to be a resounding success, bringing together people from all over the world, allowing them to meet in person, present groundbreaking scientific research, and establish new connections and collaborations. The conference book of the 8ILC, as well as the event’s photo book, are available on the conference website ( The Organizing Committee of the 8ILC would like to thank all attendees and sponsors for making such a stimulating and enjoyable conference. We look forward to meeting all of you again at the next ILC!