Keynote Speaker
  • Peking University Institute of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Weifang, China
Dr. Xingping Zhang, deputy director of Peking University Institute of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Shandong Laboratory of Advanced Agriculture Sciences at Weifang. He spent many years in seed industry including Hollar Seeds and Syngenta. Dr. Zhang is an experienced agricultural research scientist with expert knowledge and skills in plant genetics, breeding, crop management, IP protection, and teaching. He has broad international working experience in the public and private sectors. Dr. Zhang has made remarkable contributions to watermelon breeding and genetics, including breeding of the standard-setting seeded watermelon XiNong No.8, personal size seedless watermelon varieties, Super-pollenizer varieties, large seedless Fascination, ultra firm flesh seedless Crisp Delight, seeded watermelon Manchester and managing of the first T2T gap-free watermelon reference genome G42 project with collaborators. Dr. Zhang has effectively used innovation and invention strategies in his commercial watermelon breeding practices. Dr. Zhang is well known in both industry and academic agriculture around the world. Dr. Zhang enjoys working with people with different cultures and skill sets. Three years' experience of establishing vertically integrated produce business in China allowed Zhang to gain unique insights of the agriculture business and food industry in China. His colleagues refer to him as an inspiring leader, a strong team player, a passionate manager, a source of motivation, and an excellent teacher. He was given Lifetime Achievement Award at Cucurbitaceae 2018 in UC Davis, November 2018.
Research director of French National Institute for Agriculture, Food, and Environment (INRAE), vice director of Institute of Plant Sciences of Paris-Saclay (IPS2). He established the Flower and Carpel Development team FloCad, the Epigenomics and Translational Research platform EPITRANS, and the LabCom BioAdapt, at IPS2. Dr. Bendahmane's research focuses on the understanding of the gene networks controlling key agronomic traits in plants, including sex determination, fruit set and fruit development, and plant resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses. Addressing the need of breeders and farmers is also the focus of Dr. Bendahmane's team, fostered by a predilection for projects at the interface between fundamental research and plant breeding. As an acknowledgment of his outstanding research in allele engineering and crop improvements, in 2014, he obtained the first prize Georges Morel of biotechnology from the French Academy of Sciences, in 2018, he obtained LAURIER INRAE in section scientific breakthrough, and in 2022 he obtained the gold medal of the French Academy of Agriculture. Dr. Bendahmane published more than 150 research papers in the field of crop functional genomics and deposited 9 patents. He obtained twice ERC Advanced grant, one of the most prestigious funding in Europe.
  • Beijing Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences,China
Dr. Yong XU, Professor of Beijing Vegetable Research Center, Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Science, Chief Scientist of watermelon and melon section, China Agriculture Research System (CARS), Vice President of Chinese Society for Horticultural Science (CSHS), Vice President of China National Seed Association (CNSA). Prof. Xu's research focused on genetics and breeding in watermelon and melon, producing high-yield, superior-quality and high-resistance watermelon and melon hybrids through systematic study of genome and molecular mechanisms associated with agricultural traits and application of novel approaches in watermelon and melon breeding. He had published over 100 research papers and obtained 14 national invention patents and 16 PVP varieties.
  • Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Di3A) -University of Catania,Italy
In 1991 was declared PhD doctor on "Crop Productivity" and from 2010 is associated professor of Catania University, Since 1994 has collected, characterized and evaluated wild and cultivated vegetable species, and in particular Brassicaceaeones. He is coordinator of the H2020 BRESOV and he is an experienced coordinator of international research teams having led and participated pro-actively in different working groups and research projects related to the exploitation of germplasm for the innovation of the vegetable chains. He is the Italian representative of the Brassica Working Group and member of the Vegetable Network Group of the European Cooperative Program on Genetic Resources managed by Bioversity International. From 2014 to 2016 he was vice-chair of the Section Vegetables - Roots, Tubers, Edible Bulbs, Brassica and Asparagus of the ISHS, and from 2016 to 2018 its chair. From 2018 he is chair of the Organic Vegetable Working Group of the ISHS.
  • College of Horticulture, China Agricultural University, Beijing,China
Xiaolan Zhang is a professor of Vegetable Sciences at China Agricultural University. She received her B.S./M.S. from China Agricultural University and Ph.D from University of Georgia. For her postdoctoral research, she worked with Elliot Meyerowitz at Caltech on flower development in Arabidopsis. In her own lab, the main research focus on the molecular mechanisms of shoot architecture formation and fruit shape variations in cucumber. She has published more than 60 high quality papers in journals such as Nature Communications, PNAS and The Plant Cell. Her research finding about shoot branching regulation in cucumber was selected as one of the ten 'Major Advances in Agricultural Science in China' in 2020. The purpose of her research is to develop molecular breeding tools for high-efficient creation of new cucumber varieties with ideal shoot architecture and superior fruit quality. Dr. Zhang was awarded the National Outstanding Young Scholars in 2020.
  • Texas A&M University,USA Co-authors:Jashbir Singh, Rita Metrani, Kevin M. Crosby, John Jifon, Sadhana Ravishankar
Dr. Bhimu Patil is the Regents Professor and Inaugural Leonard Pike University Professor as well as Director of the Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center of the Texas A&M University and Director of USDA National Center of Excellence for Melons. He has published more than 241 peer-reviewed papers. Dr. Patil's research focuses on the broader impacts of fruits and vegetables on human health. His work also examines the effects of harvesting and post-harvesting practices on fruit and vegetable quality. Dr. Patil's contribution in establishing the concept 'Foods for Health,' is integrating the methods involved in production of fruits and vegetables, from plant breeding, agronomic practices, harvesting methods, distribution and sales, health benefits, quality, food safety, to (finally) consumption. He has secured $4.4 Million funding for a USDA-SCRI-CAPS National Center of Excellence to make sure the melons does not carry food-borne illness, improved the agricultural economics for farmers growing these watermelons, initiated a campaign to encourage consumers to eat fresh melon, and organized an international symposium to help scientists around the world share their discoveries related to Foods for Health, including melons. He gave more than 120 invited presentations in land grant institutions, professional societies, industry, and learned society organizations including 24 plenary/keynote in several countries including China, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Brazil, Sweden, France, India, Israel, Spain, Canada, Portugal, Chile, and different states in the U.S.A. Patil received 19 awards, including five "Fellow" recognition by professional societies- American Chemical Society (ACS), American Society for Horticultural Sciences, Brazilian Horticulture Society, Indian Horticulture Society, and Division of Agri. Food Chem of ACS. He co-founded an international symposium on FAV Health in 2005. He has chaired or co-chaired 25 symposia. He has been interviewed and/or his work has been published in 135 articles and news media. He has received a total of $26 Million grants and $17.4 million for his program. Dr. Patil has made outstanding contributions to professional societies in the agriculture and food for health area. Dr. Patil was elected to the position of Chair of the Section, Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (2014-2018), and Chair of the Division, Horticulture for Health from 2018-2022. He also served Chair, Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry of the American Chemical Society. He has served as program chair of many major conferences and organized numerous symposia, etc. His leadership in national and international forums brings academic researchers and industry experts together to share innovations and cutting-applications in agriculture and food chemistry.
Dr. Jordi Garcia-Mas, Scientific Director at IRTA and Vice director at Center for Research in Agronomy Genomics, Research in Dr. Jordi’s lab focuses on developing genetic and genomic tools for the characterization of important agronomic traits in melon and related vegetable crops, including: (1) Characterizing fruit ripening in melon and understanding the molecular basis of the non-climacteric ripening found in the inodorus melon genotypes; (2) Applying gene-editing technologies for the functional validation of candidate genes for melon traits. (3) Refining reference melon genome sequence through the application of cutting edge sequencing technologies. (4) Analysing the extant variability in melon germplasm using re-sequencing approaches. (5) Obtaining molecular markers for marker-assisted breeding of qualitative and quantitative traits in cucurbitaceae and solanaceae crops.
  • Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands
Dr. Yuling Bai, professor working at Plant Breeding of Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. Since 2007 she has been leading the research group of "Breeding for Resistance", with the aim to develop breeding strategies for durable resistance in different crops. The research focuses on the understanding of genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying disease resistances in vegetable crops against pathogens. Various genetic and genomics approaches are exploited to discover novel plant resistance (R) and susceptibility (S) genes and to study their interaction with the corresponding pathogens. The strong point in her research is its translational feature: overarching strategically the fundamental research to applied breeding practices. Her research has resulted in many publication in scientific Journals with high impact factors and also led to great impact in breeding practice by developing novel breeding strategies, tools and prebreeding plant materials. She is associate/senior editor for several scientific Journals and Chairperson of the Vegetable Section of EUCAPIA (European Association for Research on Plant Breeding).
  • West Virginia State University, USA Co-authors: P. Natarajan, Padma Nimmakayala
Genetics, Frontiers in Plant Science, Genomics, Genes, DNA, G3, B3, Plant Science, I-Science, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Plants, Genes, Phytochemistry, Journal of Experimental Botany, New Phytologist, Molecular Ecology, PLOS One, and Nature Genetic Reviews.
Dr. Zhangjun Fei is currently a professor at Boyce Thompson Institute and serves an adjunct professor at School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University. Research in Dr. Fei's lab focuses on 1) using bioinformatics and genomics approaches for trait discovery, crop improvement and knowledge advancement in horticultural crops such as tomato, cucurbits, sweet potato and fruit trees; 2) developing biological databases for efficient storage, management, dissemination, and mining of large and diverse public datasets; 3) developing computational tools and algorithms for efficient processing, analysis, and integration of large-scale 'omics' datasets. Dr. Fei received the US Secretary of Agriculture Honor Award in 2014. Dr. Fei has published over 300 peer-reviewed research papers and has been a Web of Science Highly Cited Researcher since 2019.
  • Department of Biology and Geology, Agrifood Campus of International Excellence (CeiA3),and CIAIMBITAL,University of Almeria,Almeria, Spain
Prof. Manuel Jamilena completed his PhD in Genetics in 1992 at the University of Granada (Spain), and after a two-year stay at the University of Reading (UK), he joined the Genetics section of the Department of Biology and Geology at the University of Almería (Spain), where he currently holds the position of Full Professor of Genetics and Plant Breeding. Head of the research group "Genetics and Breeding of Vegetable Crops", and principal investigator of several national and international research projects aimed at developing genetic and genomic tools for zucchini breeding. Among his lines of research, it is worth highlighting the genetic regulation of flower and fruit development, including sex determination in zucchini squash, as well as the identification and use of sources of resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. At this moment the group is involved in a research project to discover and characterize the genomic regions that improve the content of nutritional and functional compounds in zucchini fruit and seed.
  • Horticulture Department, University of Wisconsin,Madison, WI 53706,USA
Dr. Yiqun Weng is a Research Geneticist in the USDA-ARS Vegetable Crops Research Unit and Professor in the Horticulture Department, University of Wisconsin Madison. He leads the USDA-ARS Cucumber Improvement Program aiming to understand the genetic basis of traits important for growers and customers and to develop enhanced germplasm using classical and biotechnological approaches. Research interests in his lab include developing cucumber genetic and genomic resources for molecular breeding, use of crop wild relatives, and understanding chromosome evolution and domestication during cucumber crop evolution.