High-ranking keynote speakers from academia and industrial sectors will participate in PlantTech 2020:

  • Farrant Jill, University of Cape Town (ZA)
  • Goossens Alain, VIB Center for Plant Systems Biology and Ghent University (BE)
  • Oksman Kirsi-Marja, VTT (FIN)
  • Cryobanking Crop Genetic Resources; past, present and future perspectives
    Panis Bart, Bioversity International and KU Leuven Division of Crop Biotechnics (BE)
  • Genetic Engineering of Fruit Crops: Transformation, Rapid-Cycle Breeding, and FOX-Hunting in Wild Apple
    Wisniewski Michael, USDA-ARS (Ret.), Department of Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg (USA)

More details

Michael Wisniewski served as a Supervisory Plant Physiologist with the USDA-ARS for 36 years working on fruit crops at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, WV. He has conducted pioneering research on cold hardiness of temperate fruit trees and the biological control of postharvest diseases.  He holds several patents on frost protection technology and the utilizations of yeasts as biocontrol agents.  He is recognized as a leading expert on the phenomenon of deep supercooling in woody plants and pioneered the use of high-resolution infrared thermography to study ice nucleation in plants. He also developed the first transgenic apple tree with improved freezing tolerance and altered dormancy.

More recently, he and his colleague, were the first to identify a genetic marker for blue mold resistance in apple inherited from the apple progenitor species, Malus sieversii and utilize a rapid cycle breeding system to introgress the trait into advanced breeding lines. He has received numerous scientific awards and is the author of over 230 peer-reviewed papers and 35 book chapters.

After retiring in October 2019, he has continued his research as an Adjunct Professor at Virgina Technical University in Blacksburg, VA.

Presentation: Genetic Engineering of Fruit Crops: Transformation, Rapid-Cycle Breeding, and FOX-Hunting in Wild Apple

Research on apple transformation systems will be discussed that led to the generation of transgenic apple lines with increased freezing tolerance, early dormancy, and delayed spring budbreak. Research on the characterization and utilization of the genetic diversity in Malus sieversii, an apple progenitor species, will also be discussed. This latter includes the development of a genetic map of Malus sieversii (PI 613985) using SSRs and SNPs, identification of a major quality trait loci (QTL) for blue mold resistance, and the introgression of that trait into advanced breeding material utilizing an rapid breeding cycle system developed for apple. Lastly, research will be presented on the development of a Forward Overexpressing (FOX) – Hunting Library in Arabidopsis utilizing cDNA of mid-winter bark tissues of PI 61385.  The library, which is expected to generate up to 8,000 independent lines with unique cDNAs will be available for mass screening for novel traits and the study of apple gene function.

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