HARRY STUART PARIS

Harry Paris is a senior research scientist, recently retired, of the Cucurbits Section of the Agricultural Research Organization, at its Newe Ya'ar campus in northern Israel. His 40 years of research at the A.R.O. was devoted to the genetics, crop history, and evolution under cultivation of cucurbits. In parallel, much of his efforts were devoted to breeding squash and pumpkins with emphasis on improved fruit appearance, nutritional value, and flavor. Hybrid squash that he developed are frequently encountered at markets in Israel and two of them, the 'Goldy' zucchini (1983) and 'Orangetti' spaghetti squash (1986), are also marketed in other countries.

His tracking-down and finding of the then lost and forgotten Cucurbita taxonomy legacy of the French plant scientist Antoine Nicolas Duchesne (1747—1827) was one of the most exciting discoveries of his long career with cucurbits. Although officially retired, he continues doing some cucurbit research, keeps up with the literature, and helps out with editing.

 

REBECCA GRUMET

Rebecca Grumet is a Professor in the Department of Horticulture and the Graduate Program in Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology.  She is a W.H. Beal Outstanding Faculty at Michigan State University and a Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science.  Her research deals with vegetable genetics and genomics, with a primary emphasis on cucurbit flower and fruit development and disease resistance. 

She is currently the lead PI, along with 20 co-PIs, for the USDA-SCRI CucCAP project:  CucCAP: Leveraging applied genomics to increase disease resistance in cucurbit crops. She also has performed research, teaching and outreach in the area of biotechnology biosafety working both nationally and internationally through USDA-, USAID-, and Bill and Melinda Gate's Foundation- funded projects regarding risk assessment for transgenic crops. 

 

ANTONIO MONFORTE

Antonio J. Monforte holds an MSc in Biology and a PhD in Genetics from University of Valencia. He worked as a post-doctoral associate in Cornell University working on tomato molecular breeding projects and as staff researcher in the Plant Genetics Department of IRTA (Spain) on melon molecular breeding. He joined IBMCP (CSIC) in 2008 where he combines both melon and tomato molecular breeding projects. 

His major interest in melon research is the genetic control of fruit morphology, from the domestication to cultivar diversification. He combines germplasm diversity studies, crop evolution, development of mapping populations (specially introgression lines), QTL mapping, genomics and plant development.

 

YONG XU

Yong Xu is director and professor of the National Watermelon and Melon Improvement Center, Beijing Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences. He is Chief scientist of the National Watermelon and Melon R&D Center of China Agriculture Research system. Mainly focus on genetic breeding and molecular biology research of cucurbitaceae crops.

He has presided over the project of watermelon genome map and variation map, and clarified the molecular mechanism of watermelon quality evolution, domestication and improvement.

 

JORDI GARCÍA-MAS

Jordi Garcia-Mas holds a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1994), at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. He was appointed a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at the Sainsbury Laboratory (Norwich, UK) (1995-1997), studying the genetic mechanisms of the Ry resistance against Potato Y Virus (PVY) in potato. He joined the Departament de Genètica Vegetal at IRTA in 1997, where he focused on genetic and genomic studies in melon, developing several types of molecular markers for their application in breeding programs.

Since established at CRAG, he has focused on the development of genetic and genomic tools in melon and their use for the study of quantitative traits of agronomic importance as fruit ripening. During his scientific career, he has coordinated and participated in 24 research projects, among them the sequencing of the melon genome MELONOMICS. He coordinates the Joint Unit with Semillas Fitó S.A. since 2000, aimed at providing genetic and genomic tools to breeders in several Solanaceae and Cucurbitaceae species. Currently, he is the Chief Scientist at IRTA and Vice-director of CRAG.

 

YULING BAI

Yuling Bai is a professor working at Plant Breeding, Plant Science Department of Wageningen University & Research (WUR). Since 2012 she has been the Chairperson of the Vegetable Section in the European Association for Research on Plant Breeding (EUCARPIA). She holds a PhD in Plant Genetics and Breeding from WUR. At Plant Breeding of WUR, she performed her PhD and postdoc research from 2000 to 2006. Then, she was appointed in 2007 as assistant professor and leader of one research group “Breeding for resistance”. In 2013, she entered the Tenure Track system becoming associated professor. In 2018, she was promoted to professor.

Her research is focused on the development of breeding strategies for durable resistance in vegetable crops through understanding of genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying plant resistance to various diseases. Recently, she has broadened her research by including the interaction between abiotic stress and disease resistance. The strong point in her research is its translational feature: overarching strategically the fundamental research to applied breeding practices. Many of her research programs are oriented towards direct application of fundamental research in breeding programs by developing breeding strategies, tools, and pre-breeding materials. In 2009, she proposed to use plant susceptibility (S) genes in breeding crops with resistance to pathogens. The S-gene concept, in combination with current gene-editing techniques, have opened up a new way in resistance breeding.

 

JAMILA CHAÏB

Jamila Chaïb, PhD in integrated Plany Biology, Melon PreBreeder for Limagrain

After a thesis at INRAE, France, studying the genetic and molecular basis of tomato fruit texture and post-doc at the CSIRO, Australia, working on grapevine genetics and genomics of flower and fruit development, she joined HM.CLAUSE in 2011 as a molecular geneticist before to move to Spain in 2016 to be in charge of the melon PreBreeding research activities for Limagrain. 

 

DAVID O´DONNELL

David O’Donnell, PhD in Integrative Genetics & Genomics, Watermelon Pre-breeder for Limagrain.

He conducted his dissertation work at UC Davis to investigate underlying genetic factors governing adventitious root and exudate formation in maize, followed by an industry internship with East-West Seed melon pre-breeding team in the Philippines. He joined Limagrain in 2018 as watermelon pre-breeder, currently based in Khon Kaen, Thailand.

 

ZAHI PAZ

Zahi Paz, PhD in Plant Pathology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Cucumber Pre-Breeder for Limagrain. Following M.Sc.Agr, he joined the Sztejnberg lab to study the mode of action of three acaropathogenic fungi that inhibit growth of citrus mites and different plant pathogens. He continued as a Post-Doc to explore the Verticillium dahliae and Ustilago maidys molecular pathogenicity  pathways at the Gold lab in Athens, Georgia (USA).  

He joined Hazera and Limagrain in 2013 as a cucurbits plant pathologist and since 2018 as cucumber pre-breeder in Israel.

 

KEVIN CROSBY

Dr. Kevin Crosby is a professor of vegetable breeding at Texas A&M University. He holds an appointment in the Department of Horticultural Sciences of 70:30 research and teaching.  His research has focused on host plant resistance and quality in solanaceous and cucurbitaceous crops for the past 20 years. Novel genes for resistance to soilborne fungi have been discovered or characterized in melon and pepper, including recessive resistance to Phytophthora capsici, and dominant resistance to Monosporascus cannonballus. Novel virus resistance genes have also been identified and deployed in elite pepper lines and are currently being mapped with molecular markers. This research has led to more than 60 refereed publications and 3 book chapters, as well as over $2.4 million in competitive grants directly to his program.

He has interacted extensively with producers and seed companies in trialing novel genetic lines and released 10 new cultivars and more than 50 inbred lines to industry. This has generated more than $100,000 in license fees and royalties for Texas A&M AgriLife Research. Genomics and marker assisted selection have also been key components of his program to expedite development of novel genetic traits and stress-tolerant cultivars. He has served as a chair or co-chair for 22 graduate students and six undergraduates. In addition, he currently serves as committee member for 8 graduate students and as advisor to the undergraduate organic ‘Howdy Farm.’

 

CÉCILE DESBIEZ

Her research focuses mostly on the different aspects of plant virus emergence at different scales "from plant to landscape", using vegetable-infecting potyviruses as main models. After a PhD on the variability and evolution of zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV), and a post-doc on the determinants of aphid transmission specificity in potyviruses, she has been workin mostly on molecular epidemiology and evolution of cucurbit viruses, particulary ZYMV and watermelon mosaic virus (WMV).

She contributes to the knowledge of the viral pathosystem through the characterization of new viruses and the development of serological and molecular diagnostic tools. She also works on the molecular determinants of virus properties -host range, symptomatology, resistance breaking-and their consequences on virus fitness and evolution. Through molecular epidemiology studies and experimental approaches in controlled conditions, she contributes to characterize the interactions between virus strains at different levels and their epidemiological and agronomic consequences.