Our Invited Speakers

Matthias Benoit
French National Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment (INRAE), France

Matthias Benoit is a Research Scientist at INRAE (French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment) located at LIPME in Toulouse, France, where he investigates the role of genome plasticity and epigenetics in plant-microbe symbioses. During his post-doctoral training, he studied the epigenetic and environmental control of transposable elements in crops at the Sainsbury Laboratory (University of Cambridge, UK), before investigating the significance of genomic and epigenetic variation in tomato domestication and development in the group of Zachary Lippman at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (New York, USA).

Dirk Bosch
Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands

Dirk Bosch is a scientist with ca 30 years of research experience. His primary research activities are centered on unravelling biosynthetic pathways in plants that lead to the immense biodiversity of molecules found in plants. He applies this knowledge via metabolic engineering of plants and microbes with the aim of bringing innovation to the agro-food and health sectors. He currently holds the position of Team Leader Applied Metabolic Systems within at Wageningen University and Research. He is initiator of numerous EU and other national and international subsidy as well as contract research projects. He has ca 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications and is inventor on 19 independent patents and patent applications. He is coordinator of the EU-CHIC project.
Dirk Bosch studied chemistry at University of Leiden, did his PhD at the microbiology Department of the University of Utrecht and subsequently worked as PostDoc at Plant Genetic Systems in Ghent in Belgium.

Ana Cano Delgado
Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics, Spain

Ana I. Caño-Delgado is a Distinguished Investigator and coordinator of the Plant Signaling & Development Program at the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) in Barcelona (Spain). She did a PhD in Biology at John Innes Centre (UK) and was a HFSPO Postdoctoral Fellow at Salk Institute (US). She is internationally recognized for publishing numerous high-impact scientific journals, has received awards in science and entrepreneurship and is an elected EMBO Member since 2016. At CRAG, she leads the Brassinosteroid signaling group supported by a European Research Council (ERC) grant to engineering crops able to grow on severe drought. These achievements are the results of two decades of studies in plant steroids hormones, brassinosteroids, in which she pioneers the study of signaling mechanisms with vascular and stem cell-specificity. Her team has discovered that vascular steroid receptors confer resistance to drought and elevated temperatures without penalizing growth. In the context of a climate emergency, her lab works for the translation of these results to cereal Sorghum. In addition, Caño-Delgado is an engaged science communicator chasing two specific goals: encouraging women in science leadership and acceptance of gene edition tools in agriculture.

Jorge Dubcovsky
University of California Davis, USA

Jorge Dubcovsky is a ‘Distinguished Professor’ at the University of California Davis and a Researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is member of the National Academy of Science of the USA and in 2014 received the Wolf world prize in Agriculture. For the last 20 years, he has been directing large consortiums including most US public wheat breeding programs and received multiple awards from the US Department of Agriculture. The major goals of his program are to gain a better understanding of the effects of allelic variants of wheat genes that are relevant to agriculture and to develop the tools required for an efficient manipulation of these genes in wheat improvement. His program integrates a broad range of research projects that include whole genome studies, mapping, positional cloning, marker-assisted selection, and breeding. This integration has provided Dr. Dubcovsky’s program the ability to discover and deploy new genes or gene variants into commercial wheat varieties. Dr. Dubcovsky has published >270 peer reviewed papers that have been referred >38,000 times. He released 28 cultivars and 72 improved germplasm, and trained 29 PhD students and 9 MS students. Dr. Dubcovsky’s program cloned all the major wheat genes controlling vernalization requirement and frost tolerance, and several genes that control the number of grains per spike, stripe and stem rust resistance, and increased levels of protein, nutrients and dietary fiber in the grain. His laboratory developed new genomics tools and a more efficient method for regeneration of transgenic wheat plants and CRISPR editing. These tools are being used to uncover variation previously hidden by gene duplication in polyploid wheat.

Frank Hochholdinger
University of Bonn, Germany

Frank Hochholdinger is full Professor and Chair for “Crop Functional Genomics” at the Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES), University of Bonn, Germany since 2010. He started out studying Biology at the Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg, Germany, with Prof. Günter Feix, with an award-winning thesis on maize root mutants. He went on to earn a PhD on the isolation and characterization of maize root mutants affected in early postembryonic root development, and as a postdoctoral Research Fellow in the same research group. In 1999-2001, he was sponsored as a postdoc by the German Academic Exchange Service in the research group of Prof. Schnable, Iowa State University, USA. From 2001 to 2010 he was an independent Research Group Leader at the Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP), Department of General Genetics, University of Tübingen, Germany.

Michele Morgante
University of Udine, Italy

Michele Morgante is currently the Scientific Director of Istituto di Genomica Applicata in Udine and is professor of Genetics at the University of Udine. He was educated as a geneticist in Padova and Udine and then worked for 5 years at DuPont Crop Genomics as Senior scientist. His research group has been instrumental in establishing a number of genetic technology platforms that are now being widely deployed in plant genomic research (e.g. microsatellites, fluorescent BAC fingerprinting). His research programme is currently focusing on genome analysis in plants, including genome sequencing and resequencing and genome evolution studies, sequence  diversity analysis and epigenomics. He has contributed to the sequencing of the grapevine, peach, citrus, olie and coffee genome among the others. He is particularly interested in novel approaches to dissecting complex traits and in developing the genomics and informatics technologies needed for this.
He is a member of Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (National Academy of Sciences) and Academia Europaea and has received the 2005 Medal for Physical and Natural Sciences of the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze detta dei XL. In 2011 he has been awarded by the European Research Council an Advanced Grant for the analysis of plant pan genomes.

Brande Wulff
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia

Brande Wulff is a molecular plant pathologist and geneticist. He uses high throughput DNA sequencing and bioinformatics to identify genes restricting major diseases of wheat. His long-term aim is to use cloned genes from wild ancestors of wheat to engineer durable resistance to these diseases in cultivated wheat. Brande is an Associate Professor in the Plant Sciences Program at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia. Prior to this he was a Group Leader in the John Innes Centre, UK. He obtained his PhD from The Sainsbury Laboratory, UK in 2002.