Keynote Speakers

Sunday 21 June, 15.45 - 16.15
Anton Hartmann, Helmholtz Center Munich, Germany
will speak about "From the foundations of rhizosphere research in the 19th century to the present high tech bioanalytic based research approaches"
Anton Hartmann (“Toni”) is head of the Research Unit Microbe-Plant Interactions at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, Research Center for Health and Environment, Department Environmental Sciences, in Neuherberg / München, Germany. Together with colleagues of the EU-COST Action 831, Toni was the head of the local organization team of the 1st Rhizosphere Conference in München in 2004, celebrating 100 years anniversary of the “Rhizosphere” definition by Lorenz Hiltner. Toni´s research focus is root associated and endophytic diazotrophic plant growth promoting bacteria and the investigation of mechanisms of interactions of rhizosphere bacteria with plants. In this context, he more recently discovered the interaction of quorum sensing signaling molecules of the N-acyl homoserine lactone-type with plants. In situ-localization studies using the fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) approach with fluorescence labeled ribosomal RNA-directed probes and with antibodies allowed his group already in the early 1990s culture-independent identification of bacteria in the rhizosphere habitat applying confocal laser scanning microscopy. 

Sunday 21 June, 16.15 - 16.45
Rene Geurts, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
will speak about "The non-legume Parasponia provides insights in the origin of nitrogen fixing rhizobium symbiosis"
Rene Geurts is Associate Professor at the laboratory of Molecular Biology, Wageningen University. The Geurts team contributed to the establishment of Medicago truncatula as a model legume and used this species to genetically dissect its symbiotic traits. Additionally, Geurts was co-P.I. in a project aiming to unravel the genome structure of the arbuscular myocrrhizal fungus Rhizophagus irregularis. The current research focuses on the evolution of rhizobium symbiosis, for which Parasponia is used; the only non-legume plant that evolved a rhizobium symbiosis in parallel to legumes. By comparing legumes and Parasponia it was found that genetic constraints guided evolution of a rhizobium symbiosis. Several lines of evidence suggests that the Parasponia-rhizobium symbiosis is relatively young when compared to legumes. To underpin the genetic changes that underlie the rhizobium symbiosis trait, a comparative -omics approach is applied to Parasponia and its non-symbiotic sister species of the genus Trema. 

Sunday 21 June, 16.45 - 17.15
Toby Kiers, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands
will speak about "Tracking trade in the rhizosphere"
Toby Kiers is currently a University Research Chair and professor in the animal ecology department at the VU Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The Kiers lab is focused on understanding how rhizosphere mutualisms respond to radical changes in their environment. Their aim is to identify the evolutionary selection pressures that shape symbiont communities and ultimately to identify approaches to conserve mutualisms in the face of environmental change.

Monday 22 June, 08.30 - 09.00
Ian Sanders, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
will speak about "A microbial green revolution: breeding microbes to feed the world"
Ian Sanders obtained his PhD from the University of York in 1991, where he worked on the ecology and evolution of the mycorrhizal symbiosis. After postdoctoral positions at INRA Dijon and the Pennsylvania State University he obtained a junior group leader position at the University of Basel, Switzerland. He went to the University of Lausanne as a Swiss National Science Foundation Fellow in 2000 and later became full professor. His main research group focuses on molecular genetics of the mycorrhizal symbiosis. His research is dedicated to applying knowledge about the genetics of mycorrhizal fungi to improving productivity in globally important crops in the tropics; particularly cassava. His work in the tropics is conducted in collaboration with the group of Prof. Alia Rodriguez Villate (National University of Colombia).

Monday 22 June, 14.00 - 14.30
Jeff Dangl, University of North Carolina, USA
will speak about "Titrating complexity: root-associated bacterial communities in wild and simplified synthetic ecosystems"
Jeff Dangl is currently a HHMI-GBMF Plant Science Investigator and the John N. Couch Distinguished Professor of Biology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA.  Jeff is an elected member of the United States National Academy of Sciences (2007). The Dangl lab has contributed significantly to the use of Arabidopsis genetics as a tool to analyze plant-pathogen interactions, from mechanistic studies of plant immune receptors and pathogen effectors to the ecogenomics of plant microbiome formation. An example of the latter is his position as senior author on the publication of the Arabidopsis rhizobiome in Nature (Lundberg et al., 2012).

Monday 22 June, 14.30 - 15.00
Franciska de Vries, the University of Manchester, UK
will speak about "Going underground: the role of roots in ecosystem response to climate change"
Franciska de Vries is a Research Fellow at The University of Manchester, UK. After having completed her PhD at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, she moved to the UK in 2009 for a post doc at Lancaster University. After finishing her post doc, she stayed in the UK and is now setting up her own research group in Manchester. Her research focusses on impacts of land use and climate change on soil biodiversity, and subsequently on the effects of changes in soil biodiversity on ecosystem functioning. She is particularly interested in how plants and soil communities interact under these changing circumstances, and how this influences ecosystem processes such as carbon and nutrient cycling.

Tuesday 23 June, 08.30 - 09.00
Choong-Min Ryu, Korean Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), South Korea
will speak about "Bacterial volatiles and plant health"
Choong-Min Ryu is a Principle Research Scientist in Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, South Korea. After completing his Ph.D at Auburn University, USA, where he discovered that bacterial volatiles elicit plant growth promotion and plant immune responses, he moved to The Samuel Robert Noble Foundation for a postdoctoral position. His research topics include: 1) Field application of biological control agents such as plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria and foliar beneficial bacteria, 2) bacterial volatile-mediated plant health improvement, 3) Plant social networking system on insect-plant-microbe tritrophic interactions, and 4) Functional microbiome mining for improving plant health. 

Tuesday 23 June, 14.00 - 14.30
Gerald Tuskan, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA
will speak about "Identification and isolation of genes that influence in Laccaria colonization in Populus"
Gerald Tuskan holds a dual appointment as Group Lead for the Plant Systems Biology Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and member of the Plant Leadership Team at the Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute. He has over 25 years of experience leading and working with DOE on the development of bioenergy feedstocks, is currently the Activity Lead for the DOE BioEnergy Science Center Populus team, and is co-lead PI on DOE Plant-Microbe Interactions project. His research focuses on the accelerated domestication of Populus through direct genetic manipulation of targeted genes and gene families, with focus on cell wall biosynthesis. He currently coordinates the BioEnergy Science Center effort to reduce recalcitrance in Populus, including all internal and external collaborations related to Association Genetics, Activation Tagging, Transgenesis Experimentation and QTL Analyses. 

Tuesday 23 June, 14.30 - 15.00
Hans Lambers, the University of Western Australia, Australia
will speak about "Phosphorus acquisition by plants on the world’s most phosphorus-impoverished soils: implications for future crop production"

Hans’ key areas of research have been plant respiration, plant growth analysis, and plant mineral nutrition. He invariably aims for integration of the fields of physiology and biochemistry at whole plant and vegetation levels. In research begun subsequent to his emigration to Australia in 1998, his group have contributed significantly to our understanding of the mineral nutrition of Australian plants, especially Proteaceae, and crop legumes. In this work, he discovered why fertilisation with phosphorus so readily leads to “phosphorus toxicity” in several species of the Proteaceae. High international regard for his research contributions in the national and international research community is evidenced by his appearance on the very first ISI list of highly cited authors in plant and animal science. Among others, his Honorary Professorship at China Agricultural University, Beijing, China (2002), and election as Fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) (2003) and the Australian Academy of Science (2012) all testify to his international standing.

Wednesday 24 June, 08.30 - 09.00
Tiina Roose, University of Southampton, UK
will speak about "Multiscale imaging and modelling of rhizosphere processes"
Tiina Roose is Professor of Biological and Environmental Modelling at the Faculty of Engineering and Environment, University of Southampton, UK. Her expertise comprises mathematical modelling of plant nutrient and water uptake and tissue mechanics of biological systems. In 2001 she derived an analytic solution for single root nutrient uptake and linked it to a root branching population model. Recently, this fully analytic model has been compared to explicit 3D simulations using the same growing root system and the difference between analytics and 3D numerics is well below experimental error. She was the principal PhD Supervisor of Keyes et al. (2013) New Phyt that for the first time imaged root hairs in situ and conducted image based simulations of hairy plant P uptake.

Wednesday 24 June, 14.15 - 14.45
Angela Sessitsch, Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria
will speak about "Potato cultivation in the Andes - from plant microbiome characteristics to microbial field applications"
Angela Sessitsch is head of the Bioresources Unit of the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Austria. She obtained her Ph.D. at the Wageningen University, the Netherlands, and worked for several years with the United Nations on biological nitrogen fixation before she started her own research group at AIT. Her group works on beneficial plant-microbe interactions and other areas of food and environmental microbiology. A major aim is to better understand the ecology and functioning of rhizosphere and endophytic bacterial communities and to elucidate mechanisms, which microbes employ to colonize and interact with the plant, to improve plant growth and health. Finally, applications are developed to integrate mutualistic interactions in agriculture or bioremediation.