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Election of Vice President of the IPPS

The Society asks all its members to elect a new Vice President of the IPPS by August 12, 2020 under the following link: https://forms.gle/zRouFZvSbbxZw14g9

The nominees for this position are:
(in alphabetical order of their family name)

– Dr. Markus Albert, Full Professor at Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany

– Dr. Jonne Rodenburg, Associate Professor at University of Greenwich, UK

– Dr. Steven Runo, Associate Professor at Kenyatta University Nairobi, Kenya

– Dr. Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director and Head of Science at The University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum, UK

– Dr. Satoko Yoshida, Associate Professor at Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Japan


Biographical sketches of the Nominees

Markus Albert holds the chair for Molecular Plant Physiology at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, in Erlangen, Germany, since April 2020. His research interests are studies on the molecular mechanisms during the interaction between parasitic plants and hosts, with a special focus on signaling cues and their recognition by receptor proteins. Major organism of interest are parasitic Cuscuta spp. and their resistant and susceptible host plants. Markus studied Biology at the University of Würzburg, Germany, and obtained his PhD at Darmstadt University of Technology in 2005. After internships at the Università degli Studi di Torino, (Prof. Claudio Lovisolo) in Torino, Italy, and the Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Plant Sciences, (Dr. Sander van der Krol), at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, he joined the Center for Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP) at the University of Tübingen, Germany, in September 2006. He started there working as a Postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory of Prof. Georg Felix at the Institute for Plant Biochemistry (Prof. Thorsten Nürnberger) and became an independent Research Group Leader in 2015.

Jonne Rodenburg is an Associate Professor of Agronomy at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), part the University of Greenwich in the UK. He has been working on parasitic weeds since late 1999 when he started his PhD research at Wageningen University on host-plant defense mechanisms in sorghum against Striga hermonthica. After completion of his PhD research in 2005, Jonne continued working on parasitic weeds at the Africa Rice Center (part of the CGIAR) for 13 years, with research in West and East Africa. He investigated the biology, ecology and management as well as the agronomic and economic impact of Striga spp. and Rhamphicarpa fistulosa in smallholder (rainfed) rice production systems. Jonne also conducted variety screening work to find resistance and tolerance against these parasitic weeds in rice. He currently investigates the effects of plant nutrition on parasitic weeds and the potential synergies with host-plant resistance and tolerance. If elected, Jonne is confident that his extensive and multidisciplinary experience and network in parasitic plant research will add value to the role of Vice President of the IPPS.

Steven Runo has had a long-standing research in parasitic plant biology. His initial work was demonstration of active mRNAs exchanged between parasitic plants and their hosts. This paved way for using the concept of host-induced gene silencing to provide resistance against parasitic plants. These initial experiments were carried out in tobacco and the parasitic plant Cuscuta. Steven’s group currently focuses on Striga-host interactions with the aim of elucidating mechanisms for resistance and virulence. His group has demonstrated novel Striga resistance in maize, sorghum and millets. Genetic loci underpinning these resistances are currently being explored using genomics. His other research is on using gene-editing for Striga resistance and a tool for functional genomics in Striga-sorghum interactions.

Chris Thorogood is the Deputy Director and Head of Science of the University of Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum in the UK, and a lecturer in biology at the University of Oxford’s Department of Plant Sciences. His research focusses on the evolution of parasitic and carnivorous plants, conservation of parasitic plants, plant diversity in the Mediterranean Basin and Japan, and the biomimetic applications of plants. He is developing a national conservation collection of Orobanche in the UK at Oxford Botanic Garden. Chris Thorogood is an ambassador for public engagement with plant sciences, makes regular television appearances, and sits as a panellist for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Gardeners’ Question Time’. He is also an international best-selling author of specialist and non-specialist titles including three specialist field guides to the wild flowers of the Mediterranean published by Kew (the Algarve, the western Mediterranean and eastern Mediterranean), popular title ‘Weird Plants’ (which has a focus on parasitic plants) and the children’s book ‘Perfectly Peculiar Plants’. Together, these put a spotlight on parasitic plant biology. Chris was awarded the international Irene Manton Prize for the best PhD thesis in botany and plant sciences in the year of 2009, and carried out his PhD and postdoctoral research post at the University of Bristol (speciation in Orobanche). He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London, and was an EPA Cephalosporin Research Fellow at Linacre College (University of Oxford) from 2018, where he will be taking the position of Adjunct Fellow from September 2020. He is an Editor for the journal Plants People Planet, of the New Phytologist Trust, and a member of the journal’s strategic steering panel. 

Satoko Yoshida is an Associate Professor in Nara Institute of Science and Technology. Her research focus is the elucidation of molecular mechanisms of plant parasitism, especially of the root parasitic plants in Orobanchaceae, including noxious parasitic weeds Striga spp and a model parasitic plant Phtheirospermum japonicum. Her research group exploits forward genetics of parasitic plants in combination with genome analysis to identify genes that regulate haustorium formation and host invasion. Her research aims to reveal molecular recognition between hosts and parasites, and using the molecular knowledge, ultimately contribute to develop novel management method for parasitic weeds. Her group integrates molecular genetics, cell biology, comparative genomics and chemical biology to achieve this goal. Dr. Satoko Yoshida obtained her PhD at the University of Tokyo in 2001, and experienced as a post-doctoral researcher at the Sainsbury Laboratory in UK and an Assistant Professor at University of Munich in Germany on the research topic of plant symbiosis. She moved to RIKEN, Japan in 2006 where she started her research on plant parasitism in the group of Prof. Ken Shirasu, and appointed at current position since 2016. She received The Young Scientists’ Prize for the Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan in 2013.