Invited speakers

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.

Cyril Jourda


Dr Cyril Jourda is a researcher at CIRAD in the laboratory of PVBMT unit in Reunion Island, France. After an initial training in molecular biology and microbiology, and studying plant-microbe interactions (Master’s degree from the University of Toulouse), he got his PhD in plant genomics from the University of Montpellier, on the issue of plant evolution analyzed from the genome-scale to gene-scale. He then completed his training in the field of bioinformatics as a post-doctoral researcher at the CNRS and the University of Marseille, where he developed skills in the metagenomics approach to decipher the evolution of animals. Following his recruitment by CIRAD in 2015, he worked mainly on resistance issues of solanaceous crops to bacterial wilt. Thanks to his skills in computational biology, he is currently implementing genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) as well as comparative genomic approaches to study the genetic diversity of the Ralstonia solanacearum complex species and to identify genetic resistance factors in eggplant. As a main application of these research works in breeding, he is developing the marker-assisted selection to produce eggplant cultivars resistant to bacterial wilt.

Seon-Woo Lee


Dr. Seon-Woo Lee is a professor at Department of Applied Biology, Dong-A University in Busan, Korea. He got his BS and MS at the Department of Agricultural Biology from Seoul National University at Seoul, Korea and he moved to USA to earn his PhD in 1999 from the University of California at Riverside, USA. After a postdoc at the University of California, Riverside, he came back to Korea to work as a senior researcher at Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology, where he started to work on soil metagenomics. Since the year 2005, he moved to work as a faculty member at Dong-A University to study bacterial wilt in Korea and to use Ralstonia solanacearum as a model organism for bacterial survival and unculturability in soil. With his metagenomics background, now his major researches focus on microbial community function for plant growth and health, specifically against bacterial wilt.

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.

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.

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.