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Keynote Speakers

Prof. David B. Collinge


David B. Collinge is professor of plant pathology at the University of Copenhagen. He received his Ph.D. in genetics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, in 1982, and worked subsequently at Aarhus University, Denmark and The John Innes Institute, Norwich, UK before moving to Copenhagen in 1987. Prior the present position he was associate professor at the then Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University.
His research involves two main themes:

  1. Defence mechanisms in plants
  2. The study of endophytes and their ability to manipulate plants

Both these topics relate to a desire to improve the sustainability of agriculture through the use of biotechnology either using transgenic plants or microorganisms for biocontrol.

Prof. Kari Saikkonen


Kari Saikkonen is a professor in Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke). He received his Ph.D. in biology at the University of Turku, Finland, in 1994, and then worked as a postdoctoral student with Prof. Stan Faeth at Arizona State University in USA in 1995-1997. Prior the present position he was an Academy Research Fellow (Academy of Finland), a research professor of ecological plant production at MTT Agrifood Research Finland, and a station manager of Kevo Subarctic Research Institute.
His research involves three main themes:

  1. Climate change-driven species’ range shifts,
  2. Ecological and evolutionary implications of genetic, species and functional diversity of plants and associated micro-fungi and herbivores,
  3. New solutions for sustainable agricultural practices to circumvent the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides

Dr. Angela Sessitsch


Dr. Angela Sessitsch heads the Bioresources Unit of the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology. She studied biochemistry at the University of Technology in Graz, holds a PhD in Microbiology from the Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and is habilitated at the Vienna University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences. She has pioneered plant-associated microbiomes, particularly in the endosphere, and she is interested in understanding the interactions between plants, microbiomes and the environment as well as to develop applications. Her group explores the diversity and functioning of plant microbiota by applying a range of molecular approaches, interaction modes between plants and model bacteria, colonization behaviour of endophytes as well as various application technologies for biocontrol and crop enhancement applications. Together with her group A. Sessitsch published more than 145 peer-reviewed publications.

Prof. Kornelia Smalla


Director and Professor; Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics; Julius Kühn Institut Braunschweig; Professor at the Technical University Braunschweig.
Kornelia Smalla studied chemistry at the Martin Luther University in Halle. She did her PhD in biochemistry and her habilitation in microbiology at the Technical University Braunschweig. Her long term research interest is unraveling the complex interaction in the rhizosphere and how soil bacteria respond to changing environmental conditions. A particular focus of her research is how agricultural management systems influence the structural and functional diversity of soil- and plant-associated microbial communities, the abundance plant and human pathogen abundance as well as plant beneficial bacteria. A more recent research interest is on the understanding which factors influence the presence transferable antibiotic resistance genes on fresh produce. Kornelia Smalla received the honory doctorate in Agriculture of the Swedish Agricultural University in 2011. Her h-index is 55 (Web of Science).


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