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Crop innovation in a changing environment:

accelerated implementation of breakthrough AgBio innovations

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April 16, 2023

April 17, 2023

  • 09:00

    Plenary program

    Keynote lecture by Jérôme Van Biervliet, Managing Director VIB (Belgium)

  • 09:45

  • 10:30

    Parallel sessions part 1

    • 1A: Which breakthrough DNA technologies will contribute to the development of sustainable crops

      Advances in sequencing (long read, HT, new concepts), Gene editing (multiplexing, HT, mutagenesis, new approaches), spatial & single cell transcriptomics.

      Presentations by
      Hilde Nelissen, Group Leader VIB/Ugent (Belgium)
      Dr. Xiaodong Fang, Deputy Dean at BGI Institute of Life Sciences (China)
      Prof. Dr. Holger Puchta, Head of Institute and Chair Molecular Biology at
      Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) (Germany)
      Heaving CRISPR/Cas applications in plants to new levels: chromosome and tissue engineering
      The CRISPR/Cas technology has been applied in plants mainly on genes for the improvement of traits. However, breeding also requires the breaking or establishing genetic linkages. We were able to change genetic linkages by inducing heritable translocations in the Mb range between heterologous chromosomes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Recent improvements in sequence analysis of crop plants reveal that multi Mb long inversions occur with high frequency between different genotypes, leading to crossover suppression. We were not only able to demonstrate that inversions of up to almost chromosome size can be achieved, but also that meiotic recombination can be redirected this way. Finally, we developed a new technology for tissue engineering named CRISPR-Kill, allowing us to induce targeted cell death at defined time points in different organs at select developmental stages.

      • t.b.a.

    • 1B. What are the major advancements in high-throughput phenotyping technologies

      hosted by VITO Remote Sensing

      Robotics, drones, camera’s, biotic & abiotic stress assays, lab on a chip.

      Maarten Vanderstukken, Business Development manager Agro-biotech at Iristick (Belgium)

      Jürgen Decloedt, International Business Development at VITO Remote Sensing (Belgium)
      Faster breeding of climate resilient crops through large scale phenotyping data and predictive climate data
      Thanks to the ever increasing availability of more and better satellite data, now possibilities open up in the seed breeding domain. This presentation will focus on how the combination of satellite derived phenotypical data from operational fields along with agro climatological modelling  can serve as an accelerator to speed up the development of climate adaptive crop.

      • t.b.a.

  • 13:30

    Parallel sessions part 2

    • 2A. What are the greatest benefits of artificial intelligence and data sciences for plant breeding?

      Data handling & interpretation, HT genome assemblies, analysis and comparisons, phenotype assay analysis, interpretation, modelling and prediction.

      Presentations by
       Aalt-Jan van Dijk, Associate Professor Plant Systems Biology at Wageningen University & Research Center (NL)
       Dr. Issa Coulibaly, Sr. Scientist, BASF Agricultural Solutions (US)
      Envirotyping as an integral component of precision plant breeding: applications and perspectives

       Prof.dr. K.H.W.J. Kirsten ten Tusscher, Chair Theoretical Biology and Bioinformatics Utrecht University (NL)
       Prof. Dr. Björn Usadel, Director at Forschungszentrum Jülich (Germany)

    • 2B. How to unlock the genetic potential of plants to accelerate the development of resilient crops adapted to increased biotic and abiotic stresses?

      Pests & plagues resistance, drought & heat tolerance, adaptation to climate change, breeding for vertical farming.

      Presentations by
      Carrol Plummer, CEO and co-founder Vivent SA (Switzerland)
       Jeroen Rouppe van der Voort Ph.D., Research Manager IP & External Projects at Enza Zaden Research & Development B.V. (NL)

      Elén Faxö, CEO OlsAro Crop Biotech AB (Sweden)

      Dr. William (BJ) Haun, Head of Business Development-Technologies at Tropic Biosciences (UK)
      GEiGS® Technology: combining the benefits of gene editing and RNAi to develop critical disease resistance traits
      Tropic has developed a proprietary molecular tool referred to as GEiGS® (Gene Editing induced Gene Silencing) that combines the benefits of both gene editing and RNA interference (‘RNAi’) to enable development of non-transgenic hereditary traits across a broad range of eukaryotic hosts. Here we describe how GEiGS® is being used by Tropic to develop resistance against Panama Disease (TR4) in banana and by Tropic’s collaborators to develop resistance against other critical diseases in crops, livestock and aquaculture.

  • 15:30

  • 16:15

    Plenary pitch program

    Early stage companies will get the possibility to pitch their innovative technology, -service or -product to an international audience from the international agri-food industry.  

    The pitch program is supported by biotope by VIB CEPLAS and StartLife.

  • 17:45

April 18, 2023

  • 09:00

    Plenary program

    Keynote lecture by Roeland van Ham, Vice President Bioinformatics and Modelling at KeyGene (NL)

  • 09:45

  • 10:30

    Parallel sessions part 3

    • 3A. How to breed for better plant protein crops to support the protein transition?

      Protein crops, Europe’s need for protein crops, more food from less land.

      Presentations by
       Dr. Mendel Perkins, Lead Scientist at AgGene Inc. (Canada)

    • 3B. What are the latest developments in plant breeding of Vegetables and Field crops to adapt to the changing environments and (consumer) markets?

      Row crops, oil crops, vegetables and large fruits.

      Presentations by: 
      • Marc Heijde PhD, Program manager at VIB-UGent International Plant Biotechnology Outreach (Belgium)
      Cindy van Rijswick, Global Strategist Fresh Produce at RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness (NL)
      Never a dull moment: Healthy perspectives in a turbulent world
      In a bird’s eye view this presentation will take you through some of the key market developments in arable and horticulture crops. We will touch upon shifts and changes from farmer to consumer, discussing farmers’ challenges, retailers’ sustainability targets, (changed) consumer behaviour, the end of some hypes in the current economic environment, and other topical issues.  For breeders this offers both opportunities and challenges.

      • Dr. Jeroen Stuurman, Distinguished Scientist at KeyGene (NL)
      2S1® technology: graft hybridization as a new way to improve crops
      Breeding of crop plants in response to continuously changing requirements necessitates the development of breakthrough novel approaches and technologies for timely variety improvement. Many agriculturally important traits function at the level of individual plant tissues. For example, skin tissue (epidermis) is a nexus of genetically complex adaptations to the environment, such as pathogen and pest tolerance, drought and heat tolerance, semiochemistry and reproductive processes. KeyGene has developed technologies (2S1) by which these epidermis-linked traits can be integrally and stably transferred to existing crop varieties through graft hybridization, a naturally occurring process that exchanges the skin of one plant for that of another. Graft hybridization provides important new prospects for plant breeding. It makes natural variation available for breeding in hitherto unexplored ways, and allows selection of truly innovative crop varieties. Using 2S1 technologies, we have generated new varieties of potato, tomato and pepper with unique beneficial traits.

      • t.b.a.

  • 13:30

    Parallel sessions part 4

  • 15:30

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