14-16 March 2023
Trafalgar Centre,
Nelson, New Zealand

Keynote speakers

Jun Wu

Prof. Jun Wu

Jun Wu focus on pear science, the research interests include genomics and evolution, germplasm evaluation and population genetics, molecular and genetic mechanism of fruit development, QTL mapping and molecular breeding. In recent years, more than 60 peer reviewed papers were published in Nature Communications, Genome Biology, Genome Research, Plant Physiology, Plant Biotechnology Journal etc., as the first or corresponding author.


Prof. Qingmei Guan

Qingmei is a professor at Northwest A&F University, China. She received her Ph.D and Postdoc training from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is leading a research group at Northwest A&F University as a full-time professor. Her research interests include the identification of genes/natural variation involved in apple stress tolerance (extreme temperatures and drought stress), molecular mechanisms of plant responses to these stresses, and molecular marker-assisted apple breeding at the whole-genome level with stress-resistant traits.


Amandine Cornille

Amandine Cornille is CNRS researcher and a leader of a group working on the ecology and genomics of fruit tree-pest interactions at the Génétique Quantitative et Evolution - Le Moulon (France, Université Paris Saclay, INRAE, CNRS, AgroParisTech).

Over the past decades, research has clearly shown that interactions between species are a major driver of adaptation. The question of adaptation is fundamental to our understanding of the living world and has direct implications in relation to environmental changes (climate change and pest outbreaks), crop breeding and pest management. As an enthusiastic young CNRS scientist and group leader, Amandine Cornille is fascinated by how plants and their associated symbionts (parasites, mutualists) (co-)evolve and adapt to their environment and how these species interactions drive biodiversity in both natural ecosystems and agrosystems. Her group uses experimental plant biology, field work, modeling, ecophysiology, molecular biology, population genetics and genomics to investigate these questions. The work of her research group contributes to a better understanding of 1) how fruit tree species appear, diversify and adapt in natural ecosystems and agrosystems, 2) how pests adapt to new hosts and environmental conditions, and 3) how species interactions evolve in response to global changes. Amandine Cornille has recently been awarded of the CNRS Paoletti prize 2020.


Dr. Oscar Riera-Lizarazu 

Dr. Oscar Riera-Lizarazu is an Associate Professor and Associate Department Head for Graduate Programs in the Department of Horticultural Sciences at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, USA. Dr. Riera-Lizarazu works on rose genetics and breeding, focusing on understanding the genetic basis of adaptation and ornamental quality traits in landscape roses and the use of genomics-based tools for variety improvement.

Dr. Riera-Lizarazu has >25 years of national and international research experience in plant genetics, cytogenetics, and breeding. Before his assignment at Texas A&M, Dr. Riera-Lizarazu held various senior-level positions in the private sector, such as Global Wheat and Sorghum Breeding Leader at Dow AgroSciences and Technology Leader at Corteva Agriscience. Before working in the private sector, Dr. Riera-Lizarazu served internationally in director-level positions at the Int. Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India and as a tenured faculty in the Department of Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State University, USA. Dr. Riera-Lizarazu has also held research scientist positions at the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico and the Bolivian Institute of Agricultural Technology (IBTA), Bolivia.

Oscar Riera-Lizarazu received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Plant Science from Utah State University and a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from the University of Minnesota, USA.


Prof. Daniel James Sargent

Professor Daniel James Sargent has worked in the fields of soft-fruit and tree-fruit breeding and molecular genetics and genomics for nearly 25 years. Beginning as a strawberry breeding assistant, he then completed a PhD in molecular genetics of diploid Fragaria at East Malling, UK and was part of the consortia that developed the first molecular linkage maps for strawberry and the genome of the wild strawberry F. vesca. He developed molecular markers and linkage maps for several Rosaceous species, and identified QTL for a range of agronomically-important traits. In collaboration with colleagues in Italy, Spain, New Zealand and the USA, he elucidated patterns of evolutionary history in the genomes of Rosaceous species and the consortium proposed a model for the evolution of genomes within the family from a common ancestral species. Following a period as a research leader at East Malling, he moved to Fondazione Edmund Mach in Italy to lead the Applied Rosaceous Genomics research group that focussed on soft-fruit breeding, marker development for strawberry, raspberry and apple, and developed basic research into genome evolution and development in the Rosaceae.

More recently, Professor Sargent has worked in Industry as the molecular breeding lead for EMEA for Driscoll’s, a multinational soft-fruit company, and for Saga Robotics, a start-up company responsible for developing autonomous robotic solutions for the horticulture industry worldwide. Professor Sargent is currently Head of Fruit Breeding and Genetics at NIAB, based in East Malling in the UK. His team breeds strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples and cherries, and conducts underpinning molecular genetics and genomics research to support the aim of producing industry-leading and commercially-successful varieties of the aforementioned crops using cutting-edge tools and technologies.