Invited speakers

Kalpana Sharma


Dr. Kalpana Sharma is a Scientist with the International Potato Center (CIP), and is based in Nairobi, Kenya. She has expertise on seed sector development, tools for seed health testing, phytosanitation, seed certification standards, and procedures. Working under the Seed Potato for Africa program, she manages projects related to Seed Systems, Seed and Soil Health, Diagnostics involving local and international partners from multiple sectors in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Over the last five years, her major focus has been on Ralstonia solanacearum species complex (RSSC) strains in SSA to provide a detailed overview of bacterial wilt status, population structure and distribution of RSSC, and molecular epidemiology of RSSC strains causing bacterial wilt of potato. I use Tandem Repeat Sequence Typing (TRST) method to map and trace the movement of epidemiological RSSC strains causing bacterial wilt of potato in SSA to provide evidence-based recommendations for policy makers on informal seed movement.

Kenji Kai

Alberto Macho


Alberto Macho studied Biology and obtained his PhD at the University of Málaga (Spain). During his PhD he used genetic approaches to characterise Type III effector proteins in Pseudomonas syringae, under the supervision of Prof. Carmen R. Beuzón. In February 2011 he joined the group of Prof. Cyril Zipfel, at The Sainsbury Laboratory, in Norwich (United Kingdom), where he studied the molecular mechanisms underlying the activation of PAMP-triggered immunity in plants. Since January 2015 he leads the group of Molecular Plant-Bacteria Interactions at the Shanghai Center for Plant Stress Biology, studying the interaction between Ralstonia solanacearum and host plants to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in plant biotic stress.

Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi


Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi earned her BS degree in Molecular Environmental Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and subsequently moved to Cornell University for both her MS in Plant Pathology and PhD in Plant Genetics. After a postdoc in root biology at Duke University, she started her own laboratory at Purdue in 2013. At Purdue she combines her love of plant pathology and root biology. The long-term goal of her laboratory is to identify mechanisms underlying root resistance to soilborne pathogens, with the aim to improve global food security. Using the tomato root – Ralstonia solanacearum pathosystem as a model, work in her laboratory spans biological scales – from root cell-types to whole roots – and combines tools from cell and developmental biology, genomics, phenomics, and quantitative genetics to discover mechanisms of root-mediated resistance.

Jacques Dintinger


Dr Jacques DINTINGER is a senior officer and a researcher at CIRAD in the laboratory of PVBMT unit in Reunion Island, France. After an initial training in engineering sciences in agronomy and plant breeding, he has led various development projects in France, Africa and in the Indian Ocean from the 70s;s to the 90s. Then, he got his PhD in plant genetics from the ENSAR Rennes, while working in CIRAD Réunion, on the issue of genetic dissection and QTL mapping of resistance to virus diseases in maize. In the last 10 years, he has been conducting research on the genetics of resistance to bacterial wilt in solanaceous crops, mainly in eggplant, with the aim of deciphering resistance against the genetic diversity of the Ralstonia solanacearum complex species. As a main application of these research works in breeding, he is developing in collaboration with private seed companies themarker-assisted selection to produce eggplant cultivars resistant to different strains of bacterial wilt.

Zhong Wei



Zhong Wei completed his BS, MSc and PhD in soil science and plant nutrition department at the Nanjing Agriculturla University (NAU) during 2003-2012. He has a 12-year research experience in applied soil microbial ecology to develop beneficial microbes based bio-products for eco-evolutionary control of bacterial wilt, a typical soilborne plant disease caused by Ralstonia solanacearum. Dr. Wei has made valuable contributions to our understanding of the ecological interactions between microbiome and the pathogen R. solanacearum and the mechanisms involving in suppression of pathogen invasion by beneficial microbial consortia in plant rhizosphere. His main research findings are: 1) Small spatial variation in soil microbiome composition determines the outcome of plant-pathogen interactions in natural field conditions; 2) The type and strength of pairwise interactions can reliably predict the outcome of invasions in more complex multi-species communities in the rhizosphere. Specifically, facilitative resident community interactions promoted and antagonistic interactions suppressed invasions both in the lab and in the tomato plant rhizosphere; 3) Developed a bipartite resource competition networks that are better predictors of invasion resistance compared with resident community diversity. Based on these findings, Dr. Wei has set up a theoretical and technological multidisciplinary framework to ecologically improve soil healthy threatened by soil-borne plant pathogens and increase future food security. He has published 49 peer-reviewed papers since 2011, being a first-author or a corresponding author for 18 research SCI articles published on Nat Commun, Ecol Lett, Sci Adv, and mBio etc.