Prof. Dr. Alisdair Fernie

Title:

Repurposing biochemical genetics in the omics era

Bio:

Alisdair R. Fernie is a group leader at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology and Honorary Professor at the University of Potsdam. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Sheffield and Doctoral degree in Plant Biochemistry from the University of Oxford, UK, and postdoctoral training at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology.

His research interests have two foci the co-ordination and compartmentation of plant energy metabolism and the genetic architecture of plant metabolism. He has published over 700 papers in international journals. Dr. Fernie a member of the Editorial Boards of Plant Cell and Trends in Plant Science and has been named by the Institute for Scientific Information as one of the 10 most cited authors in the plant and animal sciences with a current H-index of 107.

Dr. Akhtar Ali

Title:

ABI2, a major phosphatase from ABA signaling, promotes flowering by inhibiting OST1/ABI5-dependent FLC activation

Bio:

Dr. Akhtar Ali is a Project leader at CPSBB. Dr. Ali secured 2021-VIHREN grant for the project CAFTA, funded by the Bulgarian National Science Fund (2022-2027). He got his PhD degree in Plant Molecular Biology with major in “Plant Stress Physiology” from Gyeongsang National University, Jinju, South Korea in 2016. He worked as a postdoc fellow Konkuk University Seoul, South Korea. His area of Research is Plant Stress physiology, with focus on salt stress signaling, ABA signaling and drought stress. He has published around 25 research papers in high ranked journals such as Plant Physiology, Molecular Plant and Front. in Plant Sci. More recently, he discovered the molecular mechanism of desensitization of ABA signaling relay which was published in “Molecular Plant” (Ali et al., 2019; 2020).

 

Prof. Dr. Jill M. Farrant

Title:

Insights from resurrection plants toward biotech applications?

Bio:

Jill Farrant holds a South African Department of Science and Innovation  & National Research Foundation Research Chair in “Systems Biology Studies on Plant Desiccation Tolerance for Food Security” ,located in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Cape Town, South Africa.  She obtained her  PhD at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, and did a year of post doctoral research at the USDA National Seed Storage Laboratory in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA before joining the Botany Department at the University of Cape Town in 1993. She moved to the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology in 2002, where she became a full Professor in 2004. She has held a research chair since 2007.

Research intersest include gaining understanding of the molecular physiology associated with seed desiccation sensivity (recalcitrance) and vegetative desiccation tolererance.  She utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to understand protection mechanisms associated with vegetative desiccation tolerance, and conversely with tissue sensitivity, and their regulation, with the ultimate aim of producing drought tolerant crops for food security. 

Jill is an Editor for Plant Growth Regulation and Frontiers in Plant Science. She is a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), the Royal Society of South Africa (RSSAf), the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and of the University of Cape Town (UCT), and a Member of the Academy of Sciences, South Africa (ASSAf) and the Organisation for Women in Science in the Developing World (OWSD).

Prof. Dr. Frank Van Breusegem

Title:

Redox-proteomics based assessments of H2O2 signal transduction

Bio:

Frank Van Breusegem is since 2001 group leader of the Oxidative Stress Signaling group at the VIB Center for Plant Systems Biology and full professor at Ghent University. Since his early studies under the supervision of em. Prof. Marc Van Montagu, he focuses on the molecular impact of oxidative stress on plant cells. He obtained his PhD from Ghent University (Ghent, 1997) with work on “Engineering Stress Tolerance in Maize”. Nowadays, the primary objective of the Van Breusegem lab is still the identification and functional analysis of regulatory gene and protein networks involved in the oxidative stress response in plants. Ultimately, he aims to translate this knowledge into biotechnological crop efficiency concepts. The lab has played a pioneering role in determining H2O2 dependent molecular and physiological responses in plants. The Van Breusegem lab is internationally recognized mainly because of its successful multi-omics driven approaches that allowed to identify several key targets in the oxidative stress response.

Prof. Dr. José M. Pardo

Title:

Flowering time under environmental stress

Bio:

Prof. Pardo is group leader at the Institute of Plant Biochemistry and Photosynthesis, Seville, Spain. He received his B.S. in Biology at the Universidad de Sevilla, Ph.D. in Biology from Centro de Biologia Molecular, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, and postdoctoral training as EMBO fellow at the EMBL, Heidelberg. He funded the Spanish Network on Plant Abiotic Stress, has served as Manager of the National Biotechnology Program in Spain, and has been Visiting Professor at the Center for Plant Stress Physiology, Purdue University, and the Plant Stress Genomics Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia. He has been named highly-cited researcher in 2022.

Prof. Pardo has worked on the biochemical basis of resistance to antibiotics in the producing Streptomyces, the genetic engineering of Saccharomyces for the production of beer with low carbohydrate content, and the mechanism of action of antifungal PR-5 plant defense proteins. His current research interest is the molecular and genetic analysis of plant responses to nutritional and salinity stresses in Arabidopsis and rice.

Prof. Dr. José M. Pardo

Title:

Flowering time under environmental stress

Bio:

Prof. Pardo is group leader at the Institute of Plant Biochemistry and Photosynthesis, Seville, Spain. He received his B.S. in Biology at the Universidad de Sevilla, Ph.D. in Biology from Centro de Biologia Molecular, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, and postdoctoral training as EMBO fellow at the EMBL, Heidelberg. He funded the Spanish Network on Plant Abiotic Stress, has served as Manager of the National Biotechnology Program in Spain, and has been Visiting Professor at the Center for Plant Stress Physiology, Purdue University, and the Plant Stress Genomics Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia. He has been named highly-cited researcher in 2022.

Prof. Pardo has worked on the biochemical basis of resistance to antibiotics in the producing Streptomyces, the genetic engineering of Saccharomyces for the production of beer with low carbohydrate content, and the mechanism of action of antifungal PR-5 plant defense proteins. His current research interest is the molecular and genetic analysis of plant responses to nutritional and salinity stresses in Arabidopsis and rice.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Paul Dijkwel

Title:

Plants maximise their survival in response to stress by balancing organ growth and death

Bio:

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Paul Dijkwel obtained his PhD degree in Plant Biology at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands in 1996. Then he went on to the John Innes Centre in the UK to work on flowering in the lab of Caroline Dean. He started his own research group at the University of Groningen in 1999 and moved to New Zealand in 2008. He is currently Associate Professor at Massey University (New Zealand)

His research focusses on how plants cope with stress and what role plant age plays in stress-adaptation processes. Stress hugely impacts agriculture because plants respond to adverse environmental conditions by initiating growth cessation or programmed cell death (senescence). Stress responses are activated for example as a result of drought, nutrient limitation, pathogen attack or after harvest. Stress responses are highly regulated processes that allows the plant to survive in a changing environment from which it cannot escape. His lab is particularly interested in the role of cell death processes in response to environmental stress. Localised cell death can limit the spread of a pathogen, while the death of complete organs, such as leaves, can remobilize sufficient nutrients for the plant to finish its lifecycle in stressful conditions. Programmed cell death is therefore an important developmental program that is crucial for plant survival, but detrimental for yield. The work helps to better control abiotic and biotic stress responses in a changing environment and, therefore, improve crop characteristics such as yield and shelf life.

Prof. Dr. Alain Goossens

Title:

The use of novel protein interactome technologies to unravel the reprogramming of tomato metabolism by jasmonates and rhizogenic Agrobacteria

Bio:

Alain Goossens obtained his Master in Biology-Plant Biotechnology at Ghent University (1992) and his PhD in Marc Van Montagu’s and Geert Angenon’s lab at the Laboratory of Genetics, Ghent University (1998), studying plant seed storage protein synthesis. During his PhD, he has also been a visiting researcher at CIAT in Cali (Colombia) in the group of César Cardona. After obtaining his PhD degree, he performed postdoctoral studies for 2 years at the IBMCP-UPV in Valencia (Spain) in the lab of Ramón Serrano, supported by a TMR-Marie Curie EU postdoctoral fellowship, and working on yeast salt tolerance. He returned to VIB-Ghent University and started his own research group within the VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology at Ghent University in 2003, focusing on jasmonate signaling, gene discovery in plant specialized metabolism and metabolic engineering. He is experienced in yeast and plant functional genomics, molecular biology and applied biotechnology. His current research aspires to understand jasmonate signaling in model, crop and medicinal plants and unravel the mechanisms that steer plant metabolism in fitness programs to find novel tools for plant metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. He has been appointed as a Full Professor at Ghent University in 2015. He has been mentoring over 40 master students, 30 PhD students and 20 postdoctoral researchers. He has authored over 150 peer reviewed publications, including in Nature, Science, Nature Communications, PNAS, etc.. In 2020 he was elected as an EMBO fellow and since 2015 he has been continuously included in the Clarivate list of Highly Cited Researchers.

Prof. Dr. Mark Aarts

Title:

How can analysis of genetic variation improve plant photosynthesis efficiency?

Bio:

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Prof. Dr. Dani Zamir

Title:

Epistasis time

Bio:

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Prof. Dr. Rober Verpoorte

Title:

Learn from Nature, learn from your Ancestors

Bio:

Prof. Robert Verpoorte holds a Pharmacists degree (1972) and a PhD (1976) from Leiden. He was lecturer at Leiden University 1976-1987, and since 1987 professor and head of the department of Pharmacognosy. Since 2011 he is an Emeritus professor, still connected to Leiden University. He was guest professor in London (UK), Uppsala (Sweden), Amiens (France), Reims
(France), Seoul (Korea) and Hilo (USA). From 1992-1998 he was Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the committee of the Phytochemical Society of Eu­rope (PSE).

Prof. Verpoorte is author/co-author of 780+ scientific papers, 4 books and 6 patent applications. September 2018 H factor 66 (Web of Science), 93 (Google Scholar) 74 (Scopus). Editor (1996-2002) and Editor-in-chief (2003-2016) of Journal of Ethnopharmacology (IF 3.115), Editor-in-chief of Phytochemistry Reviews (IF 3.393) since 2001 and Executive Editor of
Biotechnology Letters (IF 1.846) since 2006. He supervised 66 PhD-theses, and 150+ MSc theses.

Rob was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from University of Amiens, France (2004) and University of Uppsala, Sweden (2012). In 2007 he received the PSE Medal. He is an honorary professor at the Hong Kong Baptist University since 2015. In 2015 he was awarded the Gusi Peace Prize in Manila (The Philippines). Last September (2017) he was awarded the Egon Stahl Medal in Gold by the International Society of Medicinal Plants and Natural Products Research (GA) for his lifetime scientific contribution.

Prof. Dr. Xin Deng

Title:

Seeking for the masters in the on-off switch of the desiccation tolerance in plants

Bio:

Since 2008 Xin Deng is a group leader of “Theoretical and Biotechnological Research on Plant Adaption to Drought Stress” group in the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IBCAS). During her PhD studies under the supervision of Prof. Zhi-Ang Hu, she focused on the molecular physiology of desiccation tolerance of the resurrection plant Boea hygrometrica. She obtained her PhD from IBCAS in 1999 and then continued the desiccation tolerance study with another resurrection plant Craterostigma Plantagineum as a postdoc scholar in Professor Dr. Dorothea Bartels group in Max-Planck-Institute of Plant Breeding in Cologne, Germany. Since 2003, she started her career in IBCAS. In 2009, she went to Professor Dr. Jiankang Zhu group in University of California, Riverside, as a visitor scholar, to study epigenetic regulation of plants. In the past two decades, the primary objective of her and her lab is the identification and functional analysis of genes, proteins, and metabolites that may play important roles in the desiccation tolerance of resurrection plants, using multi-omics approaches, and mining of molecular resources for improving crop abiotic resistance using biotech tools. So far, she has published nearly 50 peer-reviewed publication and has supervised 25 PhD and MSc theses. Last year, she and her lab members published first evidence of epigenetic involvement in the regulation of vegetative desiccation tolerance. Since 2021, she is associate editor of a relative new journal “Current Plant Biology” (CiteScore 5.2).

Prof. Dr. Jill M. Farrant

Title:

Insights from resurrection plants toward biotech applications?

Bio:

Jill Farrant holds a South African Department of Science and Innovation  & National Research Foundation Research Chair in “Systems Biology Studies on Plant Desiccation Tolerance for Food Security” ,located in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Cape Town, South Africa.  She obtained her  PhD at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, and did a year of post doctoral research at the USDA National Seed Storage Laboratory in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA before joining the Botany Department at the University of Cape Town in 1993. She moved to the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology in 2002, where she became a full Professor in 2004. She has held a research chair since 2007.

Research intersest include gaining understanding of the molecular physiology associated with seed desiccation sensivity (recalcitrance) and vegetative desiccation tolererance.  She utilizes a multidisciplinary approach to understand protection mechanisms associated with vegetative desiccation tolerance, and conversely with tissue sensitivity, and their regulation, with the ultimate aim of producing drought tolerant crops for food security. 

Jill is an Editor for Plant Growth Regulation and Frontiers in Plant Science. She is a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), the Royal Society of South Africa (RSSAf), the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and of the University of Cape Town (UCT), and a Member of the Academy of Sciences, South Africa (ASSAf) and the Organisation for Women in Science in the Developing World (OWSD).

Prof. Dr. Dorothea Bartels

Title:

Shutting down metabolism to activate survival during desiccation

Bio:

Dorothea Bartels is a professor at the University of Bonn. She studied biology and chemistry at the University of Hannover, Germany. She obtained her doctoral degree in Botany from the University of Hannover, Germany. She worked for several years as a postdoc at the Plant Breeding Institute, Cambridge, UK. Then she became a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding in Cologne, Germany when she started to work on stress in plants. This was followed by a professorship at the University of Bonn which was succeeded by a professorship at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, NL and finally she returned to a professorship for physiology and biochemistry of plants at the University of Bonn.

The main research interests are molecular stress physiology in higher plants and particularly anhydrobiosis and how plants adapt to environments with water deficit. She is editor in chief of the international journal Planta, she is an EMBO member and a member of the Academy of Mainz.

Prof. Dr. Ann Cuypers

Title:

Sulfur in plant responses to abiotic stress: from signalling to acclimation

Bio:

Ann Cuypers is full professor at Hasselt University and PI of the laboratory of plant abiotic stress signalling and solutions (PASS2) with a major focus on oxidative challenge within the environmental biology research group. During her studies and academic career, focussed on plant metal/abiotic stress responses using a molecular plant physiological approach. Her PhD involved the analysis of the antioxidative defence mechanisms in metal-exposed Phaseolus vulgaris. Thereafter, she mastered on molecular strategies in detoxification of reactive oxygen species during a Marie Curie Post-Doctoral stay under the supervision of Prof. Christine Foyer at IACR-Rothamsted (Harpenden, UK).

The integration of the obtained knowledge during her PhD and postdoctoral training has become the framework of her research, i.e. abiotic stress responses, mainly metal stress, with a central focus on the oxidative challenge. As oxidative stress is an important factor in the balance between cellular damage versus signalling, it is an important regulator in plant adaptation towards environmental challenges, which is translated into plant yield and quality at crop level. From this perspective, the fundamental research is nowadays translated into a multidisciplinary applied research line within the circular economy framework, focusing on abiotic stress mitigation and crop quality.
Ann Cuypers has published over 150 peer-reviewed publications, is handling editor for Journal of Experimental Botany and was recently appointed as president of the Plant Oxygen Group (part of the SFFR-Europe) in 2022.