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The cell surface – comprising the plasma membrane, the underlying cortical cytoskeleton and in many cell types a cell wall – is a central integrator of cell form and function. Its physico-chemical properties are rapidly modulated to accommodate or drive changes in shape or behaviour and to exchange matter and information with the environment. This symposium will bring together researchers from different communities interested in processes occurring at the cell surface across kingdoms. It will focus on new technologies that empower studies of cell wall, actin and membrane biology, such as advanced imaging in in vitro and in vivo systems, as well as approaches combining molecular biology with computational and biophysical approaches.