Advances in plant reproduction – from gametes to seeds


Below is a list of the confirmed speakers for the meeting:


José Feijó
Jose Feijo

(University of Maryland, USA)

TALK TITLE: Ion signaling and pollen tube targeting

Ion homeostasis has been implicated at various of reproductive success. We focus on Ca2+ and pH signaling on the pollen tubes. I will report on molecular mechanisms and quantitative studies of the choreography of these two ions during chemotropic responses to show the relevance of the ionic status of the pollen in the perception and signaling of external cues and correct pollen tube targeting.


José Feijó is currently a Professor at the University of Maryland. Research in his group is focused on understanding apical cell growth and morphogenesis, using the pollen tube as a biological model, ion dynamics as an experimental paradigm and theoretical modeling as an integrative tool. His group contributed with novel ion channels and sensors involved in pollen tube biology and reproduction. Feijó’s group further pioneered transcriptomics of plant male gametes and its consequences for plant reproduction and improvement.

Pilar Testillano

Pilar Testillano

(CSIC-Madrid, Spain)

Talk title: Microspore embryogenesis: unraveling the determinant factors of cell totipotency for crop improvement

Microspores originate pollen grains in planta, but they can be reprogrammed in vitro by stress treatments, acquiring totipotency and following an embryogenesis program which produces doubled-haploid plants, very useful in crop improvement.  Recent investigations have unveiled epigenetic and hormonal factors underlying the process, and the involvement of cell death and autophagy.


Pilar S. Testillano is Scientific Researcher of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) at the Biological Research Center (CIB) of Madrid, and Head of the laboratory of Pollen Biotechnology of Crop Plants. She obtained her PhD at Complutense University of Madrid and did research projects at CNRS in Villejuif (France) and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in NY (USA). Her group has focused on understanding the cellular processes that drive gametophytic development, cell totipotency and reprogramming towards embryogenesis, in crop and forest species, by cell biology and bioimaging approaches, with special attention to microspore and somatic embryogenesis and their biotechnological applications. 

Aureliano Bombarely 


(Virginia Tech, USA)

Talk title: Genetic insights of the modification of the reproduction mechanisms during plant domestication

The domestication of ornamental plant species is linked to the selection of phenotypes that modify the reproduction mechanisms. Florist’s gloxinia (Sinningia speciosa) is an excellent model to study plant domestication linked to the selection of actinomorphic and double corolla flowers phenotypes.


Dr. Bombarely holds a Assistant Professor position in the Department of Horticulture at Virginia Tech since 2014. He obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Malaga in 2007. He moved to the Boyce Thompson Institute in 2008 as postdoctoral researcher working in bioinformatics and genomics under the leadership of the Prof. Mueller. In 2012 he moved to Cornell University as Associate Researcher to work in systematics and polyploid plant evolution under the supervision of Prof. Doyle. Currently his research is focused in the study of the genome evolution under the domestication process and how it is linked with the crop phenotypic diversity. A complete list of Dr. Bombarely's publication can be found at here.

Emidio Albertini

emidio albertini_RS

(Università degli Studi di Perugia, Italy)

Talk title: APOSTART: A candidate gene involved in embryo progression and parthenogenesis

Apomixis is a naturally occurring mode of asexual reproduction in flowering plants, resulting in embryo formation without meiosis or fertilization of the egg. APOSTART, was isolated as candidate for apomixes. Double mutants seeds contain embryos, 30% of which show a delayed or arrested development.


Emidio Albertini is Associate Professor at the University of Perugia. His research topics are focused on plant reproductive systems, epigenetics and DNA methylation. Since 2002 he is the organizer of the Apomixis worshop held within the Plant and Animal Genome Conference, San Diego, California. Author of more than 50 papers in ranked journals. Guest editor of Plant Reproduction and Academic editor of PLoS One and BMC Genetics. In 2006 he was awarded by the United States Department of State of a Fulbright Scholarship. In the last decade he has given oral communications as either selected or invited lectures in national and international conferences. 

Lucia Colombo

Lucia Colombo
Head of Department of Bioscience (University of Milan, Italy)


Talk title: Molecular mechanisms controlling ovule development in Arabidopsis

Ovules are highly complex structures that upon double fertilization develop into seeds. The determination of ovule identity and number is therefore essential to ensure progeny. One of the transcription factors that play an important role in ovule development is the Auxin Response Factor MONOPTEROS (MP). The network controlled by MP and the transcriptional and post transcriptional regulation of MP during ovule development will be discussed.


Prof Lucia Colombo has been studying molecular networks controlling the development of female reproductive organs in plants since many years. In particular her group has contributed to a deep understanding of the transcriptional regulatory network that controls ovule identity.
In 2010 she was appointed as full professor in General Botany and since 2014 she is Head of the Department of Biosciences, at the University of Milan.

Matthew Tucker

Matt Tucker

(University of Adelaide, Australia)

Talk title: Activating the female germline during plant development

Female gamete formation in flowering plants initiates in the ovule, where a pool of somatic cells give rise to a single germline cell. Germline establishment is a fundamental prerequisite for seed development, but is poorly understood due to the location of progenitor cells deep within the flower. We have been investigating this process in dicot and monocot models using cell-type specific methodologies. Our approach is providing novel molecular, compositional and morphometric insight into the mechanistic basis and evolutionary conservation of germline formation, and identifying potential targets for crop improvement strategies.


A/Prof Tucker is a developmental geneticist with research expertise in plant reproduction, seed development and cell wall biosynthesis. He received his PhD from the University of Adelaide and CSIRO Plant Industry in 2003, and subsequently undertook postdoctoral research as an EMBO fellow at the University of Freiburg in Germany. In 2011 he joined the University of Adelaide, where he runs a research group investigating communication between different cells in the ovule and seed. His work has been published in journals including Developmental Cell, PloS Genetics, Plant Cell and Development.