Thinking Higher

Towards biosecurity of forest trees 

Took place on 11 July 2019 at the University of Birmingham, Edgbaston Campus

Thanks to Dr John Jackson, a useful write up of the event is in the Forestry Journal

The programme and the biographies of the speakers can be accessed below.  We are very grateful to our funders for enabling this conference to take place. 

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BIFoR lock-up-landscape

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Also sponsored by the Society for Applied Microbiology (sfam)

Plants are constantly exposed to abiotic (environmental change) and biotic (pests and pathogens) conditions. Trees, with an average life expectancy of centuries, have a strong immune system that allows them to survive these threats in normal circumstances. However, in the last few years, we have seen outbreaks of tree diseases such as ash dieback that we have not been prepared for. These events have been fuelled by climate change (e.g. increased temperature and CO2 concentration) and globalization (e.g. movement of people and goods). The speed at which these phenomena are occurring simply leaves us and our forests, vulnerable to unexpected landscape changes. Much of the effort to control disease outbreaks is directed at operational responses to immediate threats, therefore, there is a need to focus on enhancing our fundamental understanding of plant-pathogen-environment interactions in the longer-term. It is clear that the successful implementation of effective strategies and solutions cannot be achieved by individual countries alone but is dependent on global effort.

This International Symposium, free and open to everyone, will showcase the latests research in plant pathology and tree research. We will welcome researchers from the UK and abroad with a background in forest and plant research. They will bring global exchange of knowledge, common thinking and scientific collaboration towards forest biosecurity. 

PROGRAMME - The programme including the biographies of the speakers is also available as a PDF.


9.00 - 9.30 Registration and welcome

9.30 - 10 Opening Ceremony

- Dr Estrella Luna-Diez and Dr Graeme Kettles, symposium organizers/hosts

- Prof Laura Green, Head of College of Life and Environmental Sciences 

- Prof Nicola Spence, Plant Chief at DEFRA and Director of BIFoR

10 – 11.15 Session I: Aspects of Forest Research

- Prof Richard Buggs, Kew Gardens, Genomics for future trees, 

- Dr Adriana Puentes, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Forest protection against insect pests: utilizing plant defence strategies to our favour

- Prof John MacKay, University of Oxford, Stress response and resistance genomics in conifers

11.15 – 11.35 Coffee break and poster session

11.35 – 13.15 Session II: Enabling Tools in Plant Pathology

- Prof Bart Thomma, Wageningen University, Effector biology of the vascular wilt fungus Verticillium dahlia

- Victor Flors and Victoria Pastor, University Jaume I of Castellon. Targeted and non-targeted metabolomics to shade some light in plant-microbe interactions

- Dr Marco Cantoni, University of Birmingham, New approaches to study transposable element contribution to plant genome plasticity

13.15 – 14.00 Lunch break and poster session

14.00 – 15.40 Session III, part 1: Research in Tree Pathology

- Dr Benoit Marcais, University of Loraine, INRA, Landscape epidemiology of Hymenoscyphus fraxineus (ash dieback)Prof Dawn Arnold, University of the West of England. Detection and interaction of bacteria associated with Acute Oak Decline

-Prof Luis Sampedro, Spanish National Research Council - Misión Biológica de Galicia, Challenges with understanding the spatial and temporal patterns of tree constitutive and induced chemical defences

-Prof Dawn Arnold, University of the West of England, Detection and interaction of bacteria associated with Acute Oak Decline

- Dr Hans Hoenicka, Thunen Institute of Forest Genetics. Priming-based approaches for resistance induction in forest trees species

15.40 – 16.00 Coffee break and poster session

16.00 – 17.15 Session III, part 2: Research in Tree Pathology

- Prof Alejandro Solla, University of Extremadura, Quantifying disturbance and resilience of Quercus ilex forests in response to global change stressors

Prof Fred Asiegbu, Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki. Forest Tree Mycobiome: Friends or Foes

- Prof Sandra Denman, Forest Research UK. A holistic research approach to understanding and managing complex decline syndromes of oak