Keynote speakers

Melissa G. Mitchum

Not Everyone Fits the Mold: Soybean Resistance Genes and Soybean Cyst Nematode Effectors

Melissa G. Mitchum, a Professor in the Division of Plant Sciences and Bond Life Sciences Center at the University of Missouri and Director of SCN Diagnostics, investigates the mechanisms by which plant-parasitic cyst nematodes infect the roots of plants. Mitchum also is identifying the genes soybean uses to resist infection by soybean cyst nematode. Her lab uses a variety of molecular, genetic, and biochemical approaches and tools to decipher the function of the nematode’s effector proteins and plant resistance genes. A better understanding of the nematode and plant genes involved in the interaction could lead to the development of crop plants that are nematode resistant, which could reduce the billions of dollars in annual crop losses due to these pests.

Peter Geldhof

Current challenges in the control of nematode infections in humans and animals

Peter Geldhof graduated as Master in Biotechnology at Ghent University. After finishing his PhD at the Laboratory for Parasitology of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine  at Ghent University on a project aimed at assessing the use of worm excretory-secretory antigens as vaccine targets for gastrointestinal parasites in cattle, he received a Marie Curie EU fellowship to continue his research on parasitic nematodes at the Moredun Research Institute in the UK. In 2006 he returned to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at UGent were he was appointed as Professor in Veterinary Parasitology.  The aim of his research, which is situated at the crossroads of immunology and parasitology, is to unravel the host-parasite interplay during parasitic infections, with the main focus on gastro-intestinal parasites. The ultimate goal is to provide the essential information needed for the development of immunological control strategies against parasites. The research includes the analysis of the host immune responses combined with detailed research into parasite biology.  


Emile Frison

Agricultural Biodiversity Is Essential for a Sustainable Improvement in Food and Nutrition Security

Emile Frison is an expert on agricultural biodiversity who spent most of his career in international agricultural research for development. He was Director General of Bioversity International from 2003 to 2013.   In September 2007, he was appointed Extraordinary Professor in genetic resources by the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. He has been a Member of the Executive Board of the Global Crop Diversity Trust from 2009 to 2013.  In 2015, he became a member of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) in 2015. He is the lead author of the IPES-Food report “From Uniformity to Diversity: a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems”.


Christine Griffin

Lethal fighting in entomopathogenic nematodes

 Christine Griffin is a Professor in Maynooth University Department of Biology. Her joint research interests are in the behaviour and ecology of entomopathogenic nematodes, and in improving the success of these organisms as biocontrol agents of pests of horticulture, agriculture and forestry. The main focus of her research has been on the nematode infective juveniles – the active ingredient of biocontrol products and the stage that effects transmission in nature. Her lab is also interested in defence of the cadaver resources by entomopathogenic nematodes by, on the one hand the nematodes’ symbionts, and on the other hand, by the adult male nematodes that fight each other to maximise their reproductive success though access to the cadaver and mating partners within it.


Sofie Derycke

Metabarcoding as a quick tool to characterise (marine) nematode communities?

Sofie Derycke is a molecular ecologist working as senior scientist in the marine genomics group at ILVO. She uses and explores molecular tools to study the ecology and evolution of marine organisms, and is particularly interested in understanding how the environment (including human-induced pressures) shapes population genomic variation, community composition and organismal responses. Her toolbox contains DNA/RNA and NGS techniques such as GBS, metabarcoding, RNAseq and genome sequencing. She explores the potential of metabarcoding for species level identification of marine nematode communities in impacted environments by generating reliable reference databases, comparing different marker genes and bioinformatic pipelines and trying out new library preparation methods that are not biased by the primer set used. Her aim is to understand what metabarcoding data can and cannot learn us about community structure in free-living marine nematodes.


Jaap Smedema

Integrated nematode control solutions are a must in the future

Jaap Smedema is the global product manager for soil applied nematode control products at Bayer.  He has over 20 years of firsthand experience in agriculture at Bayer and as a Seed Potato producer. Together with a team of nematode experts worldwide he is working to help growers manage their nematode problems. Bayer develops novel product solutions, both chemical and biological, as well as concepts for combination of these solutions in an integrated approach which can help farmers to control plant pathogenic nematodes and secure crop productivity in a sustainable manner. This integrated approach becomes even more important in the future due to expected increase of regulatory pressure to the old class of nematode control products. The overall aim is help the grower to keep the nematode populations under control whilst supporting productivity of the crop for years to come.



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