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Robert Lamb

Robert Lamb was educated at Melbourne and Cambridge Universities and subsequently held academic appointments in England, Germany, the United States, Hong Kong and Australia as well as senior administrative positions in both University and Government. He works at the interface between Physics and Chemistry, published over 200 papers and 39 patents, mostly in surface and materials science and trained 81 postgraduates in the process.

Professor Lamb has been a synchrotron user in Europe, US and Asia for 25 years. Locally he also chaired the Board of Australian Synchrotron Research Programme during the construction of the National facility. He was subsequently appointed its Foundation Director. In support he has led the ISO groups that produced National Standards for surface characterization and also world’s first ISO certification for Synchrotron operations.

His current research interests are in thin film materials with particular emphasis on non-stick surfaces. A major interest is in the way public and private sectors form relationships to translate science into technology. Along the way he has been involved in the creation of 4 companies, the most recent in Hong Kong/China. He spends too much of his life on planes and/or in airports.

On August 1, 2014, Professor Lamb will take on the role of Executive Director at the Canadian Light Source.



Karen Chad
Vice-President Research at the University of Saskatchewan
Greetings from the CLS

Dr. Karen Chad is the Vice-President Research at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and is also a faculty member in the U of S College of Kinesiology, as well as a Director on the Board of the Canadian Light Source Inc.

With a PhD from the University of Queensland in Australia, Dr. Chad is a prolific researcher holding several research grants and contracts and has supervised numerous graduate students.  She received the YWCA Woman of Distinction (Health and Education) award and was awarded the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal.  In addition, Karen has earned five teaching awards including the U of S Master Teacher Award.

Dr. Chad sits on a number of national boards and has chaired or overseen more than 100 key boards, committees, research programs, and teams.  Honours include an International Award for “Innovation in Research”, the National Leadership Award from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, and in 2011 was identified as a “Woman of Influence” by Saskatchewan Business Magazine.

The University of Saskatchewan is committed to enhancing its capacity for research, scholarly and artistic work; strengthening its performance; and promoting the transfer of knowledge for the benefit of communities. As the Vice-President Research, Dr. Chad plays a strategic leadership role in achieving these objectives within the context of the University’s key goals: to attract and retain outstanding faculty; to increase campus-wide commitment to research; to establish the University of Saskatchewan as a major presence in graduate education; and to recruit and retain a diverse and academically promising body of students.

Building on the University of Saskatchewan’s renowned history of discovery and innovation spanning more than a century, Dr. Chad, the University’s Vice-President Research, aims to enhance globally important research under the banner of “discovery with impact”; bringing its expertise on issues of importance to communities and to society.



Tony Pridmore
Professor of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham
Session Speaker

Tony Pridmore is Professor of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham, UK, where he leads the Computer Vision Laboratory in the School of Computer Science and is a Director of both the Centre for Plant Integrative Biology and the Hounsfield Facility for Rhizosphere Research, a unique installation providing automated extraction of 3D structural descriptions of plants form X-ray data. His research interests centre on image analysis and computer vision, particularly object detection, 3D reconstruction, visual tracking and their application to bioimage analysis.

Increased interest in plant phenotyping has led to a variety of sensors being applied in a range of growth environments. Environments vary from highly constrained laboratory growth rooms to natural field conditions, while sensors range from generic computer vision techniques to application-specific probes. At present the more generic technologies, those capable of providing rich descriptions of a wide range of objects, are limited to the more constrained environments. Only carefully designed sensors, providing a small number of measurements and measurement types, are truly reliable in the field. We believe that X-Ray CT has the potential to shift the balance between sensor generality and environmental complexity in root phenotyping. CT is a general 3D sensor providing data from which a large number of structural parameters can be obtained, but one which allows roots to be imaged in their natural environment – soil. The application of X-ray CT to plant root phenotyping, however, requires carefully designed imaging protocols and powerful image analysis techniques and tools. We will discuss the challenges faced by those wishing to recover accurate quantitative descriptions of plant roots, present recent developments in the analysis of X-ray CT images of roots grown in soil and describe the Hounsfield Facility, a large-scale, automated, CT-based root phenotyping centre recently constructed at Nottingham.



Steve Hunt
President and CEO, Qubit Systems Inc., Canada
Session Speaker

Steve Hunt obtained his PhD at the John Innes Centre in the UK where he studied the photosynthetic physiology of C3-C4 Intermediate species.  For postdoctoral studies he moved to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where he is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biology. Here, his research focused on the regulation of N2 fixation in legumes, especially by control of a variable barrier to O2 diffusion in the nodules.

As part of this research and together with Qubit co-founders Dr. David Layzell and Nick Dowling, Steve developed and patented a number of instruments and techniques for monitoring plant physiological processes. Qubit Systems Inc. (Queen’s University Biological Instrumentation and Technology) was established to commercialise these technologies, as well as a range of instruments and packages for teaching biological processes in the laboratory. As CEO of Qubit Systems, Steve has developed close relationships with a number of companies and international researchers to advance the field of plant phenomics. Collaboration with Photon Systems Instruments of the Czech Republic has resulted in the development of the PlantScreen line of plant phenotyping devices.

Plant phenotyping for agriculture in crisis
Steve Hunt, Martin Trtilek, Klara Simkova 

Feeding the world is a challenging business, especially in the face of global warming, drought, saline soils, soil nutrient depletion, fungal infections, insect herbivory – this list goes on.  Researchers are scrambling to develop new plant varieties that can maintain high yields under conditions that limit the productivity of current crops.  However, identification of the few individual plants with beneficial phenotypic traits requires that thousands of plants are monitored, preferably at the same stage of development and the same time after imposition of stress. Qubit Systems provides tools to help achieve this goal.

In association with Photon Systems Instruments of the Czech Republic (the first company to commercialise a chlorophyll fluorescence imaging system), Qubit Systems has developed a range of PlantScreenTM, plant phenotyping platforms for the greenhouse, growth room and field.  These incorporate imaging technologies for RGB and morphometric analysis, thermal analysis, hyperspectral analysis and, critically, in-depth analysis of chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics.  The latter technique, as a rapid tool for monitoring photosynthetic processes, is key to the identification of early onset of stress, and recovery from stress after amelioration.  This presentation will review the imaging techniques that may be used for plant phenotyping, and also the ways in which plants’ environment may be controlled prior to analysis.  Data from a range of plants, including arabidopsis, maize, turfgrass and barley, subjected to drought, osmotic and temperature stresses will be presented.



Edwin Reidel
Business Manager, North America at LemnaTec
Session Speaker

Edwin Reidel is LemnaTec’s Business Manager for North America.  He previously worked as an Applications Scientist for a research instrument manufacturer and as a Research Scientist in vegetable seed production methods.  Edwin received a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology from Cornell University and a M.S. in Agronomy from U.C. Davis.

High-throughput phenotyping – a boost for genomics in the 21st Century
Jörg Vandenhirtz*, Mark Humble, Matthias Eberius, Dirk Vandenhirtz, LemnaTec Germany

Due to the development of highly automated genetic analysis, plant genomics has immensely enlarged our understanding of the genetic structure of plants over the last two decades.
The fast evolving need to identify interactions between genes and environmental factors (biotic and abiotic) that brings about a certain plant phenome made it necessary to develop quantitative, reproducible and highly automated plant phenotyping systems for large plant numbers.

Phenotyping systems such as these have to integrate reproducible plant management (randomization, watering) and comprehensive imaging of root and shoot far beyond human vision (visible light, PS2-fluorescence, near infrared, infrared, hyper spectral, NMR, X-rays, THz) as well additional chemical analysis methods. Immediate and automated image analysis of the stored images and further data transformation using plant shape and plant growth models are the important intermediate steps before undertaking statistical data analysis of the phenotyping results to characterize plant phenotypes quantitatively. Such quantitative data contributes in a decisive way to the further analysis of gene functions (tilling, QTL etc.), especially under fluctuating or stress-induced environmental conditions with a special focus on complex traits like yield or drought tolerance.

This presentation will provide a survey on existing and new phenotyping technologies, especially field phenotyping and root phenotyping as well as the close interaction between phenotyping technologies, modelling approaches and the new opportunities of fast and automated high-throughput genomics.

Ramaswami Sammynaiken
Saskatchewan Structural Science Centre
Session Speaker
Dr. Sammynaiken has a BSc Hons. in Chemistry from McMaster University, MSc from Guelph and PhD from the University of New Brunswick. Since 2000, he has been involved in setting up, managing and establishing the Saskatchewan Structural Sciences as a core multidisciplinary laboratory at the University of Saskatchewan. 

Off- line imaging and spectroscopy: present and future
Abstract: A brief description of some instruments that are complimentary to synchrotron based analytical methods will be presented. Most of these off-line instruments are available for plant imaging and other applications in the Saskatchewan Structural Sciences Centre (SSSC). Instruments targeted for the SSSC expansion will be open for discussion.




Darby McGrath
Research Scientist, Nursery and Landscape, Vineland Research and  Innovation Centre,  Lincoln, ON  Canada
Session Speaker

Dr. Darby McGrath is the research scientist for nursery and landscape research at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.  Her research integrates best practices for quality tree root production and ecological restoration principles to address challenges of urban tree survival.  Darby obtained her Master’s and her PhD in Social and Ecological Sustainability from the University of Waterloo. She has also taught in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo.


Urban tree survival applications for root imaging technology

Most urban soils are compacted which restricts tree root growth and results in tree failures. Trees that are most affected by compacted urban soils are those that have root defects (circling, girdling and driving roots) common in container-produced trees. Less than optimal root architecture increases rates of failure because roots that are not radially oriented around the trunk increases time-to-establishment can result in girdling of the tree and makes trees susceptible to transplant mortality or high-winds. Root systems of plants have not been comprehensively studied because it is challenging to assess root activity in-situ, particularly the large extensive systems of mature trees. However, with a greater focus on proper root development of woody species in production, increased use of root structure for predicting tree failure by the arboriculture community, and growing research on understanding root capacity for carbon sequestration—the importance of in-situ root imaging technology is paramount.  


John Doonan
Professor of Phenomics, Director of the National Plant Phenomics Centre Aberystwyth University, United Kingdom

Session Speaker

John Doonan has more than 25 years’ experience in genetics and developmental cell biology of plants and fungi.  Before joining IBERS as Director of the National Plant Phenomics Centre, he was Group Leader at the John Innes Centre in Norwich. Previous to that he worked at the Robert Wood Johnston Medical School in New Jersey, USA and obtained his PhD from Leeds University.
Abstract to come



Henk Jalink
Session Speaker

Dr. H. Jalink obtained his PhD in physics in 1987 at the Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The first three years he worked at the Wageningen University on a project that involved construction of CO- and CO2-lasers and using these laser spectral lines to identify fatty acids. After this period he obtained a position as senior scientist at Plant Research International at Wageningen UR. Henk has experience for 27 years on developing non-destructive methodologies for biological applications. His main interest is characterising seeds and plants using spectral and fluorescence technologies, chlorophyll fluorescence imaging using laser and LED excitation, and GFP/RFP protein camera systems capable of imaging whole plants. Recently he developed a pulsed LED camera system, CropReporterTM, for imaging the photosynthesis activity on a whole plant level (patent application). Henk and a colleague have commercialized this invention by founding their own company, PhenoVation, and are now selling the CropReporterTM for stand-alone imaging, high throughput screening and sorting applications.

Henk was born in 1956 and now living in Dodewaard, The Netherlands. He is married and has two boys. His hobbies are gardening, audio (hifi) and cars.

Assessment of physiological crop quality by imaging the photosynthetic activity of whole plants using fluorescence emission from chlorophyll-a
PhenoVation B.V., Wageningen Campus, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands

Measuring chlorophyll-a fluorescence is a rapid, non-destructive technique that has been used successfully in the evaluation of plant photosynthetic activity. It is based on the phenomenon that when light absorption in the leaves causes excitation of chlorophylls, de-excitation mainly occurs through three competing pathways: thermal dissipation as heat, photochemistry and re-emission as fluorescence. Measurements of the latter can be used to indirectly monitor the photosynthetic activity. Here we present a chlorophyll fluorescence imager, the CropReporterTM that is capable of imaging whole plants. The measurement is based on a saturating light pulse from high intensity LEDs to excite chlorophyll-a yielding a fluorescence response of the plant known as Kautsky effect. The fluorescence response is being imaged using CCD-cameras at frame rates up to 380 images/s and resolutions up to 6 Megapixel. From these captured fluorescence images, new images are calculated that correlate with the photosynthetic activity of the plant. Unique features of the CropReporterTM are the short measuring time, 300 ms, capturing images of large plants, now up to 1 m in diameter, but also larger on customer specification, from several meters distance and at high depth of field. The effects of biotic and abiotic stresses on photosynthetic parameters, like Fv/Fm, Fq’/Fm’ and NPQ, will be discussed.




Alanna Koch
Deputy Minister of Saskatchewan Agriculture
Keynote Speaker

Alanna Koch was appointed Deputy Minister of Saskatchewan Agriculture in November 2007. 
Alanna has been involved in the agriculture industry, both professionally and personally, for most of her life.  For the two years prior to her appointment as the Deputy Minister of Agriculture for the Government of Saskatchewan, she worked with the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance (CAFTA) – an organization that advocates an open and fair trading environment for agriculture and agri-food products – first as Vice-President and then as President.  Her background in agriculture and agricultural policy also includes the roles of Director with Agricore United, Executive Director with the Western Canadian Wheat Growers and Director of the George Morris Centre at the University of Guelph.

Alanna has also helped develop agricultural extension services in Atlantic Canada, served as a national judge for Canada’s Outstanding Young Farmers’ program and as a committee member for Canadian Western Agribition. 

She has a Chartered Director designation from the Directors College, a program of the Conference Board of Canada and the Michael D. DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University. She is a graduate of the Canadian Agriculture Lifetime Leadership program and an Honorary Life Member of the Saskatchewan Institute of Agrologists.  Alanna currently serves on the boards of Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation and Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP), and the Global Institute for Food Security, a unique public-private partnership aimed at increasing the supply and quality of food to help solve food security issues around the world while advancing the growth of Western Canada’s bioeconomy.

She was named one of the Saskatchewan Agricultural Hall of Fame 2011 inductees.  The Hall of Fame formally and publicly recognizes persons who, in the course of their residence in Saskatchewan, have made significant contributions to the welfare and improvement of Saskatchewan agriculture, and to a better way of life for the farm family.
In 2012, Alanna received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work on behalf of the province’s producers.  In honour of Her Majesty, the Royal Canadian Mint created 60,000 medals that were awarded to outstanding Canadians who have made a significant contribution to their province or community.

Alanna, with her husband, Gerry Hertz, own and operate a grain farm at Edenwold, Saskatchewan.  They have two daughters who keep them very busy.  They are also involved in their small community of Edenwold


Menachem Moshelion
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture and Environment
Keynote Speaker 

Dr Moshelion is a molecular physiologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. His research interests are in the fields of molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling whole-plant water-use efficiency, leaf water-status homeostasis and crop productivity, under normal and abiotic stress conditions.
His major research projects are: 1) The role of Solanaceae aquaporins in improving plant vigour, abiotic stress tolerance and yield production. 2) Developing a high-throughput, physiological phenotypic screening system for the whole plant. 3) Development of quantitative criteria to screen forest trees seedlings regarding their tolerance to water deficiency and water-use efficiency and 4) The role of C3 bundle-sheath cells as the plant's first line of defence against embolisms and as a sensor for stress-induced ABA.

A Novel High‐Throughput Physiological Phenotyping and Screening System for Characterizing Plant x Environment Interactions 
Plants have different strategies for coping with fluctuations in ambient conditions,  soil water availability and atmospheric demand. Different plants manage their water budgets differently under similar conditions, with important consequences for their carbon budgets, survival, growth and yield.

Despite the enormous efforts invested in the development of plants that are resistant to abiotic stress, only minor progress has been made, emphasizing the complexity of the different traits involved, environment fluctuations and bottlenecks in the selection process.
We developed a whole-plant experimental platform and screening method, based on successive monitoring of the whole-plant transpiration rate, biomass gain, root-to-shoot flux ratios, soil moisture and salinity levels, as well as ambient radiance and vapour pressure deficit (VPD). These successive simultaneous measurements allowed us to calculate the whole-plant stomatal conductance, water-use efficiency, relative water content fluctuation and hydraulic conductance of numerous of plants under pre-defined and controlled soil-stress conditions, over periods ranging from only few minutes to the entire growing season.

Using this system we can get a detailed physiological response profile for each plant in the array, under normal, stress and recovery conditions and at any growth stage. Comparative physiological characterization of many plant species, including wild type populations of Arabidopsis, Barley, Tomato and Pine seedlings, revealed several plant stress response strategies that we classified according to their relative “conservative” or “risk-taking” behaviour. We describe a “calculated-risk-taking” trait that could be used as a marker for the selection of abiotic stress tolerance and resilient plants. 


Derek Peak
Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan, Department of Soil Science, Environmental soil Chemistry, Saskatoon, Canada,
Keynote Speaker

Derek Peak is a Professor of Environmental Soil Chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan, where he uses a wide range of laboratory and molecular-scale techniques to understand the fate and transport of nutrients and contaminants in soils. He has been a faculty member in Soil Science at the University of Saskatchewan since 2002. He received his PhD from the University of Delaware in 2002, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management from Louisiana State University in 1996.  Dr. Peak has been a synchrotron user for 15 years, and has served as a member and chair of the Canadian Light Source Users Advisory Committee. His research interests include oxyanion chemistry in soils, iron oxide mineralogy, and synchrotron-based chemical speciation in natural systems.

Abstract to come



Peiqiang Yu
Professor and Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Chair, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
 Session Speaker

Dr Peiqiang Professor and Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Chair at Department of Animal and Poultry Science, College of Agriculture and Bioresources, University of Saskatchewan. Distinguished Chair Professor at Tianjin Agricultural University.
Dr Peiqiang Yu received his Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Melbourne and Master of Science from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. His passion for plant-based food and feed structure along with nutrition research led him to develop a unique and innovative research program in Canada.
Dr Yu is currently leading the synchrotron-based feed molecular structure and molecular nutrition research program that focuses on how molecular structure changes impact nutrient utilization and availability in animals.
Having published more than 180 referred journal articles and 10 book chapters since receiving his PhD;
Dr Yu is a prolific researcher. In addition to his highly innovative research programs, he is involved in many professional activities.
Dr Yu is a grant reviewer for several international science funding agencies including: USA ACS-PRF Grant, Israel Science Foundation (ISF), Canadian-AAFC and NSERC. Dr. Yu has been in the editorial board for seven international scientific journals such as “Molecular Nutrition & Food Research”, “Biomedical Spectroscopy and Imaging”, “Archives of Animal Nutrition”.
Dr Yu is in the International Advisory Committee (IAC), International Symposium on the Nutrition of Herbivores (ISNH), a reviewer (External Experts) for the Canadian Light Source (CLS-Synchrotron) in CLS beam-time applications, and Scientific Expert Member of the synchrotron infrared Microspectroscopy Beamline Development Team (BDT) at NSLS II–Brookhaven National Lab, US Dept. of Energy, New York.

A unique research tool, synchrotron (SR-IMS) contributions to advances in plant, seed, food and feed research
Unlike traditional wet analytical methods which during processing for analysis often results in destruction or alteration of the intrinsic structures, the synchrotron-based infrared microspectroscopy (SR-IMS) has been developed as a rapid and non-destructive bioanalytical technique. This technique, taking advantages of synchrotron light brightness, is capable of exploring the inherent structure of a biological sample within intact tissue at high-spatial resolutions. The presentation shows how the synchrotron-based SR-IMS with conventional techniques provide a unique research tool for plants, seeds, food and feed research and is contributing to advances in molecular structure, chemistry imaging and feed and food science technology.



Chithra Karunakaran
Beamline Scientist, Canadian Light Source - Saskatoon, Canada
Session Speaker

With a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering from the Tamilnadu Agricultural University (TNAU) in India, Chithra completed her Masters and Ph.D in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Manitoba.  During her graduate studies, her focus was in Grain Storage research, determining the safe storage life of wheat at different storage conditions and the use of X-rays to detect insect infestations in grain.  Her post-doctoral research includes algorithm development for the Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) analysis at the University of California, Davis.

Since 2005, Chithra has been working as a Staff Scientist at the Canadian Light Source (CLS).  As a Staff Scientist, she is responsible for the development, maintenance, and user support of a soft X-ray spectromicroscopy beamline.  She is an Adjunct professor in the Chemical & Biological Engineering department at the University of Saskatchewan and in the Biosystems Engineering department at the University of Manitoba.  Due to her own passion, Chithra started to utilize and demonstrate the use of synchrotron based techniques for agricultural and food research.  Presently she is leading the proof-of-concepts in Plant Innovation Research Program at the Canadian Light Source, a unique project in Canada and in the world.  She has published her research work in more than 30 referred journals, 3 invited book chapters, and over 78 conference proceedings and papers. She has won several awards including the best Ph.D dissertation award from the University of Manitoba. Abstract to come



Gary Peng
Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatoon SK Canada
Keynote Speaker

Dr. Peng received his Ph.D. in Plant Pathology at University of Guelph in 1991.
He is currently a Senior Research Scientist at Saskatoon Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
His research focuses have been on clubroot and blackleg of canola, including resistance gene discovery, host resistance mechanisms, race structure of pathogen population, biological/chemical control, and integrated disease management.

Understanding the mechanism of clubroot resistance based on transcriptome, metabolome and fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) analyses
Rachid Lahlali, Tao Song, Chithra Karunakaran, Gary Peng

Clubroot, caused by Plasmodiophora brassicae Woronin, is a serious threat to canola production in western Canada. Host resistance is a cornerstone to clubroot management and understanding resistance mechanisms is the key to optimal use of clubroot resistance (CR) genes for durable resistance. Rpb1 is a CR gene identified recently from Brassica rapa. Transcriptomic analysis based on RNA sequencing identified several genes related to host defense responses, especially for signaling and metabolism of jasmonate/ethylene and pathogen-induced callose deposition, were up-regulated substantially in resistant (R) canola plants carrying Rpb1 following P. brassicae infection. The possible role of jasmonate in Rpb1-mediated resistance was further supported by its increase in R plants upon infection, as identified in global metabolite profiling using direct-infusion Orbitrap mass spectrometry (DIMS). DIMS also identified flavonoid- and tryptophan-derived metabolites related to CR. Many of these metabolic alterations can possibly be induced via the jasmonate/ethylene pathways. In a further study, FT-IR was used to assess differential biochemical markers in plants with Rpb1 using ground bulk root samples. FT-IR data were analyzed using the principal components analysis (PCA) focusing on two spectral regions: 3,100-2,700 cm-1 (for lipids) and 1800-800 cm-1 (a fingerprint region for proteins, polysaccharides, and carbohydrates), respectively. Roots of R and susceptible (S) plants responded differently to infection; there was an increase in lipids, but decrease in polysaccharides and carbohydrates in inoculated R samples relative to inoculated S samples. This result echoes the RNA-sequencing data which identified several lipid compounds playing a role in clubroot resistance. In contrast, a decrease in lipids but increase in polysaccharides, carbohydrates and proteins were observed in inoculated S samples relative to the non-inoculated control. Changes in proteins between inoculated R and S samples were insignificant. PCA loading plots identified differential changes in lipids, pectin, cellulose and hemicellulose (xyloglucan) in root samples following infection.



Thorsten Knipfer
University of California, Davies, Department of Viticulture and Enology
Session Speaker
Abstract to come

Karen Tanino
Professor of Plant Sciences, College of Agriculture and Bioresources, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
Session Speaker

Dr. Karen Tanino is a full professor holding a full time tenured appointment in the Dept. Plant Sciences, College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.  She has been studying/working in the field of plant abiotic stress for 30 years and co-chaired the 8th International Plant Cold Hardiness Seminar (2007).  She also teaches the graduate level PLSC 865.3 Plant Abiotic Stress course held in alternate years.  Her area of research specializes in plant abiotic stress physiology and the interactions of plants with the environment.  She has worked on cold stress, drought stress, salt stress (various plant systems including winter wheat, potato, perennial onion, bromegrass, saskatoon berry, strawberry) and vegetative bud dormancy induction in trees and shrubs.

Integrating advanced imaging techniques to study spatial localization of cellular constituents of interest to improving plant abiotic stress resistance and nutritional quality

Applications of synchrotron technology were assessed in various plant systems.  Allium fistulosum L. was investigated as a novel model system to examine the mechanism of freezing resistance in cold hardy plants. The 250 x 50 x 90 µm single epidermal cell layer system allowed direct observation of functional group localization during cold acclimation on an individual cell basis in live intact tissues. Cells increased freezing resistance from an LT50 of -11oC (Non-Acclimated, NA) to -27oC (Cold Acclimated, ACC) under 2 weeks of acclimation. Samples were processed using Fourier Transform InfraRed technology (FTIR) on a synchrotron light source and a focal plane array detector. Cell wall components were verified through HPLC.   Differential spectral reflectance has been reported under field conditions in two wheat cultivars (‘Superb’ and ‘Stettler’) which show putatively differential drought stress resistance under these field conditions.  In a field-to-lab approach, FTIR assessment of epicuticular wax composition and underlying pectin and cell wall components were analyzed in these two wheat cultivars under acclimated and drought stress conditions.  Information on quantitative and spatial localization of phytate in low and normal phytate pea seed development may also be presented.

Mike Dixon
Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility, Guelph University, Canada
Session Speaker 

Dr. Mike Dixon is a professor in the Department of Environmental Biology and the Director of the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF), University of Guelph.  Dr. Dixon joined the University in 1985 as a NSERC University Research Fellow after earning his PhD from Edinburgh University in Scotland and holding a post-doctoral position at the University of Toronto. He served as Chair of the Department of Environmental Biology from 2003-2008.

As project leader for the Canadian research team investigating the contributions of plants to life support in space, Dr. Dixon formed the Space and Advanced Life Support Agriculture (SALSA) program at the University of Guelph.  This program currently represents Canada’s prime contribution to the international space science objectives in life support and the CESRF currently leads the world in research and technology developments in applications of biological life support systems.

The technology “pull” of the space program for biological systems to support long term human space exploration initiatives has resulted in a broad scope of technology transfer to the terrestrial agri-food sector.  These include a variety of controlled environment technologies and sensors for assessing plant-environment interaction such as the stem psychrometer for monitoring plant water status.

Plant water potential is a key, possibly the key, biophysical variable exhibited by plants in their response to environment variables like water, nutrients, temperature, humidity, light and carbon dioxide. This environment cocktail is continually integrated by plants and their water status response reflects the collective effects of short and long term variations. So, reliably measuring water potential in plant tissues has been the subject of varying levels of technical innovation for well over 100 years ever since Dixon and Joly explained the cohesion theory of sap ascent in the late 1890s. The latter half of the last century saw the most activity in technical approaches to quantifying water potential, most notably the Scholander “pressure bomb” and variations of psychrometric techniques. The latter has evolved to a sophisticated technical level with increasing accuracy, reliability and automated data acquisition. The application of the automated stem psychrometer has emerged as a powerful tool in assessing plant-environment interactions in a broad range of plant systems from woody to herbaceous plants. The advantage of non-destructive measurements with up to 10 minute temporal resolution over days and even weeks provides a unique opportunity to investigate environmental stimuli. The technique will be examined in detail along with several examples of its application.


Ingrid Pickering
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Molecular Environmental Science, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
Session Speaker 

Ingrid Pickering received her BA in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge (UK) in 1986 and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Imperial College-University of London (UK) in 1990. After a two year postdoctoral fellowship with Exxon Research and Engineering Company (New Jersey, USA) she moved to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (California, USA) where she spent 11 years as a staff scientist. She came to Canada and her present position at the University of Saskatchewan in 2003.
Ingrid currently is the Canada Research Chair (Tier 1) in Molecular Environment Science and Full Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences. She has extensive interactions with the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, notably with BioXAS, a suite of three beam lines currently under construction, for which she is co-scientific lead with her husband and Canada Research Chair, Graham George. Her research investigates metals and other elements in biological systems such as plants from the environment to human health. With over 20 years of experience in research with synchrotron light, she has more than 140 publications in the peer-reviewed literature.
Understanding trace elements in plants

Josef Hormes
Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices (CAMD), Louisiana State University,
Session Speaker 

Synchrotron radiation and plant characterization: some out of the box thoughts
Protein crystallography is the most successful industrial application of synchrotron radiation based research! One of the reasons for that success is that it is a well-known technique and that is provides reliable and quantitative results that can be used directly for product development and improvement. As a consequence not just dedicated and highly optimized beamlines were built at more or less all SR-facilities but bio-informatics was used to develop faster algorithms for data acquisition and data evaluation. At the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), for example, a suite of 8 dedicated beamlines is operated and up to 1000 crystals per day can be screened regarding their diffraction characteristics [P. Theveneau et al.].

In contrast “plant imaging” (e.g. via tomography) and/or the spectroscopic characterization of e.g. plant diseases (i.e. via X-ray absorption spectroscopy) are not well known in the corresponding community, they very slow processes, there are hardly any dedicated beamlines, and the results are in most cases even not quantitative.
For making plant characterization attractive for industry significant and well-coordinated efforts are necessary for overcoming the existing blockade.
In this talk some of the challenges, the existing opportunities, and some examples for industrial relevant plant research are discussed that would help making SR based techniques for plant characterization and optimization more attractive for industry. 

Dean Chapman
Session Speaker 

Dean Chapman obtained a PhD in physics from Purdue University in 1981. He spent several years at National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory (1982-1995) as beamline scientist at the X18A, then the X17 materials science beamline and finally on the synchrotron medical research facility beamline. In 1995, he moved to Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago to help direct that institution’s synchrotron efforts (three beamlines) at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory.  He and two colleagues from Brookhaven National Laboratory developed the diffraction enhanced imaging method which is now one of the common synchrotron methods for imaging soft tissue.  In 2003, he came to the University of Saskatchewan as a professor in Anatomy and Cell Biology where he is the scientific lead of the Biomedical Imaging & Therapy (BMIT) project at the CLS, a founder of a research group on synchrotron imaging of gene expression, Canada Research Chair in X-ray Imaging, and Special Advisor for the Nuclear Initiative in the Office of Vice President Research. 




Ben Babst
Plant Biologist, Brookhaven National Laboratory, USA
Session Speaker

Ben Babst earned a B.S. in Biology at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), a master’s degree focused on plant responses to ultraviolet-B radiation at the University of Maryland College Park, and a Ph. D. at Tufts University with a focus on plant physiological and molecular responses to herbivory. After conducting postdoctoral research at Michigan Technological University, and the University of Georgia using functional genomics approaches to study phenylpropanoid metabolism in poplar, he moved to Brookhaven National Lab as a Distinguished Goldhaber Fellow, and now is a tenure track scientific staff member, studying basic whole-plant physiology in support of bioenergy crop development.

One of the major missions of the U.S. Department of Energy is to develop dedicated bioenergy crops that accumulate high biomass rapidly in the midst of abiotic stresses, while minimizing energy input requirements for crop cultivation and extraction of energy. We require a better understanding of the mechanisms contributing to growth and stress tolerance and their regulation, in order to determine best strategies for improving relevant traits. Distribution of nutrients to growing tissues and phytohormone signaling regulate traits important to bioenergy, such as overall stem architecture and biomass yields, as well as tolerance to stresses, but the mechanisms of regulation are not completely understood. Using carbon-11 radiolabeled carbon dioxide we have found that changes in patterns of carbon distribution throughout the plant exert regulatory influence over branching, and hence shoot architecture. Using the carbon-11 radiolabeled form of the phytohormone auxin, [11C]-indole-3-acetic acid, we have gained new insights into how the auxin signaling system controls stem elongation in large grasses. I will present ongoing studies of carbohydrate transport and whole-plant allocation, and the roles of auxin transport in large grass stems, in the context of DOE missions to develop dedicated non-food crops for bioenergy.

Tiina Roose

Professor of Biological and Environmental Modelling, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
Session Speaker

Tiina Roose is a Professor of Biological and Environmental modelling working on modelling and technology development for biological systems at the Faculty of Engineering and Environment, University of Southampton. Her first degree was in Systems and Control Engineering from Tallinn Technical University, Estonia. She completed a DPhil on ‘Mathematical Model for Plant Nutrient Uptake’ at Oxford in 2000 under the supervision of Professor Andrew C. Fowler. She then spent two years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Steele Laboratory for Tumor Biology at the Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital working on the tissue mechanics of biological systems with particular emphasis on tissue growth and remodelling related problems. The Steele Lab at HMS/MGH was part of the Harvard-MIT Health Science and Technology (HST) program which in order to foster fast interactions between engineers and medics had all the PDRAs part of Harvard Medical School faculty and all the PhD students where registered at the MIT graduate school. The work in Boston involved personally undertaking in-vitro and in-vivo experiments including measurements of the mechanical properties of collagen gels and solid tumours. In 2003 she returned to Oxford to take up a postdoc position with Professors Jon Chapman and Philip Maini at the Oxford Centre for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. In 2004 she was appointed Royal Society University Research Fellow, which she held first in Oxford and from Oct 2009 in Southampton. In 2013 she was appointed a chair of Biological and Environmental Modelling at the University of Southampton.
Image-based modelling of plant-soil interaction
In this talk I set out to illustrate and discuss how imaging and image based mathematical modelling could and should be applied to aid our understanding of plants and, in particular, plant–soil interactions. My aim is to persuade members of both the biological and mathematical communities of the need to collaborate in developing quantitative mechanistic models. I believe that such a combination of modeling and imaging will lead to a more profound understanding of the fundamental science of plants and may help us with managing real-world problems such as food shortages and global warming. I start by shortly reviewing mathematical models that have been developed to describe nutrient and water uptake by a single root. I discuss briefly the mathematical techniques involved in analyzing these models and present some of the analytical results of these models. In particular I will discuss in more detailed a combined synchrotron and modeling study about the importance of root hairs for plant phosphate uptake. Then, I describe how the information gained from the single-root scale models can be translated to root system and field scales. I discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different mathematical approaches and make a case that mechanistic rather than phenomenological models will in the end be more trustworthy. I also discuss the need for a considerable amount of effort on the fundamental mathematics of upscaling and homogenization methods specialized for branched networks such as roots. Finally, I discuss different future avenues of research and how we believe these should be approached so that in the long term it will be possible to develop a valid, quantitative whole-plant model.



Harini Rangarajan
Penn State University, USA
Session Speaker

Masters in Biochemistry  Bangalore University
Masters in Biophysics, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore
Worked for three years as Council for scientific and industrial research (CSIR) research fellow at National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore
Currently third year PhD student at the Roots Lab, Department of Plant Sciences, Pennsylvania State University

Modeling of root systems: In quest of feeding 10 billion
Harini Rangarajan and Jonathan Lynch
Low soil fertility and drought are the most important factors affecting crop productivity around the world. There is a need to develop crops which have better yields under these types of stress. Root traits are an important factor in nutrient acquisition. The spatial distribution of roots through the soil, known as the Root System Architecture, along with root anatomical traits determine plant nutrient acquisition. Several root traits interact to result in large number of complex characteristics. Evaluation of these traits and their combinations is a daunting task. The use of models of root systems has been shown to be very valuable in evaluating these characteristics. Modeling of root systems is a promising approach in the evaluation of specific root traits, the interaction between roots traits and their environment.

Peter Phillips
Professor, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, and Associate Member, Department of Bioresource, Policy, Business and Economics, University of Saskatchewan
Session Speaker

Dr. Peter W.B. Phillips, an international political economist, is Professor of Public Policy in the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan. He undertakes research on governing transformative innovation, including biotechnology regulation and policy, innovation systems, intellectual property, supply chain management and trade policy. In addition to his role as co-principal investigator of VALGEN, he leads a team of scholars who examine the current environment and critical control points as well as constraints and opportunities in future regulation and governance. His latest book - Innovation in Agri-Food Clusters: Theory and Case Studies (CABI, 2013).



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