2019 Scientific Program

Program is subject to change.
Don’t forget to check back as more information will be updated as it becomes available.

Keynote Speaker

Synthetic Biology for Engineering Plant Genetic Circuits: from Predictable Electronic-like Functions to Innovative Desalination
June Medford, Professor of Biology at Colorado State University

June Medford completed her PhD at Yale University and is a currently a Professor of Biology at Colorado State University. She is a recognized world leader in plant synthetic biology. Dr. Medford is at the forefront in developing methodologies and applications for synthetic biology implemented in plants. She developed the first plant sentinels, plants transformed with the computationally designed ability to detect and respond to exogenous substances (featured on the television program, NOVA), programmable genetic controllers, and new technology, a synthetic desalination circuit. Dr. Medford serves on three Editorial Boards for synthetic biology journals and active in numerous Synthetic Biology organizations from EBRC (Leadership Council) to GP-write (Scientific Executive Committee). Dr. Medford is active in promoting the use of plant synthetic biology to a wide audience of scientists and policy makers both in the U.S. and U.K.


Saturday, June 8

9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Flow Cytometry with Cell Sorting Followed by Data Analysis Techniques

Saturday Workshop


Sunday, June 9

8:00 am – 10:00 am

Frontiers of In Vitro and Synthetic Biology

Plenary Symposium
Conveners: Fredy Altpeter, University of Florida, and Michael K. Dame, University of Michigan Medical School

Synthetic biology applies engineering principles to biology by targeting the design and construction of new biological parts, devices, and systems, and the re-design of existing, natural biological systems for broad applications including biofuels, agriculture, bio-materials, biopharmaceuticals, sustainability and more. Session topics will focus on development of tools to enable rational design of novel traits. The session will also present recently pioneered human organoid systems, derived from three-dimensional cell cultures or biopsy tissue samples. These unique human “organs in a dish” incorporate some of the key features of the represented organs and are powerful tools to study and understand molecular mechanisms controlling developmental processes, stem/progenitor cell regulation, cell fate decision-making, disease, and repair.

Beyond Gene Editing: Current Status and Future Applications of Synthetic Biology in Plants
C. Neal Stewart, University of Tennessee
Developing Plant Synthetic Biology Tools for Complex Metabolic Engineering
Patrick Shih, The Joint Bioenergy Institute
Using Organoids to Understand Human Intestine and Lung Development
Jason Spence, University of Michigan


10:30 am – 12:30 pm

Engineering Stress Tolerance in Crop Plants

Plant Symposium
Conveners: Sadanand Dhekney, University of Wyoming, and Prakash Kumar, National University of Singapore

Plant growth and productivity are under constant threat by the environmental challenges. Some of the crucial factors that have a major influence on plants include abiotic stresses such as salinity, drought, and cold. Salinity stress alone affects plant growth at various developmental stages leading to a reduction in crop yield. With the rapidly growing population, improving crop tolerance to abiotic stress will be a key solution to increase agricultural production. Technological advances in recent years have resulted in the identification of several biomarkers that control plant growth and development and play a crucial role during abiotic stresses. Enhanced expression of some of the genes that regulate synthesis of different osmolytes and sugars, e.g., trehalose has been shown to confer salinity tolerance in crop plants. The involvement of ABA signalling in abiotic stress tolerance is well known. However, the various signalling players involved are only partly known. Talks in this session will focus on identifying genes and molecular mechanism underlying stress response, and how selected candidate genes may help in generating crop plants with enhanced abiotic stress tolerance in the coming decades.

Prakash Kumar, National University of Singapore
Roberto Gaxiola, Arizona State University
Niranjan Baisakh, Louisiana State University


Micropropagation Best Practices

Plant Symposium
Conveners: Angela Labrum, Carlton Plants Nursery, and Joyce Van Eck, The Boyce Thompson Institute

Micropropagation has many applications including, but not limited to, conservation efforts of threatened and endangered species and generation of large numbers of plants for nursery production.  Factors such as the health of the starting material, medium components, and environmental factors (lighting and temperature) can influence in vitro plant growth.  The speakers in this session will share some of the most recent advances related to the effects of these factors on micropropagation and share information related to case studies where these advances were put into practice.   The topics will include stock plant maintenance, insect control, approaches for contaminant elimination and acclimatization.

Stock Plant and Initiation
Kara Gregory, Spring Meadow Nursery
In-Vitro Insect Control
Calvin Anderson, Better Blooming Orchids
Quality Plants for Acclimatization
Ray Gillis, Oglesby Plants International


Biological Sensors: Organoids to Organisms for Answering Medicinal, Agricultural and Environmental Questions

Joint Symposium
Conveners: Allan R. Wenck, BASF, and Michael K. Dame, University of Michigan Medical School

3D organoid cultures established from patient-derived tissues serve as an highly accurate model to assess efficacy and safety of various agents. This session will focus on employing this novel in vitro system to evaluate a red marine algae product, currently in clinical trial, for colon cancer chemopreventative properties. Secondly, work will be presented here demonstrating that this sophisticated multicellular system is a valuable tool for screening environmental toxins. Organoids derived from multiple organs have the potential to accurately model responses across many applications and questions.

Differentiation in the Colonic Mucosa with a Mineral Supplement Derived from the Marine Algae Lithothamnion sp.: Clinical Trial Outcomes Compared to Response in Human Colonoid Culture
James Varani, University of Michigan
Blake Bextine, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)


12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Micropropagation Best Practices Luncheon Panel

Plant Luncheon Panel
Moderators: Angela Labrum, Carlton Plants Nursery, and Joyce Van Eck, The Boyce Thompson Institute

We hope you will join us for an open format question and answer session immediately following the Best Practices Session. There will be three micropropagation professionals serving as panel members to facilitate the discussion. Our desire is that this is a time of problem solving, idea sharing and networking.

Steve McCulloch, Mountain Shadow Nursery
David Lawson, Agri Starts
Barbara Reed, Retired, USDA


1:30 pm – 3:00 pm

Balancing Genomics and Genome Editing with Stewardship for Academic Research and Development

Plant Symposium
Conveners: William Gordon-Kamm, CORTEVA AgriscienceTM, Agriculture Division of DowDuPontTM, Albert P. Kausch, University of Rhode Island, and Wayne A. Parrott, University of Georgia

Stray transgenes may not pose health or environmental risks, but they can result in severe disruptions to to trade, resulting in billions of dollars in economic losses for the people involved, not to mention crippling financial liability. Recent breakthroughs in transgenic technology, combined with advances in genome editing, mean that transgenes could be more widely available and in more labs than ever before. At the same time, major regulatory rollbacks proposed by USDA will contribute to the perception that relaxed handling of transgenes is permissible, just as improved sequencing technology is making the detection of stray transgenes easier than ever before. This session will highlight just how real the probability of economic damage and incurring personal liability is. It will then call attention to common practices that assist in transgene escape, and describe practical solutions for effective transgene containment.


Metabolic Engineering for Value Added Plant Products and Biofuels

Plant Symposium
Conveners: Pon Samuel, CORTEVA AgriscienceTM, Agriculture Division of DowDuPontTM, and Ming Cheng, BASF Plant Sciences

Metabolic engineering is the targeted improvement of the cellular metabolic pathway using recombinant DNA technology with the goal of high-yield production of value added products or fuels. Using synthetic biology approaches facilitates the modular assembly of multigenic constructs and allows programming of cells with more precise control and more dynamic gene expression for generating products that are scalable and thus commercially viable. In the recent past, plant based metabolic engineering has scaled up production of fragrances, food flavors, medicinal components or fuels. This session emphasizes targeted pathway engineering for high-yield production of plant based metabolites and fuels.

Converting Sugarcane into Oilcane by Metabolic Engineering
Fredy Altpeter, University of Florida
Patrick Westfall, Zymergen


Stem Cell Differentiation in Human Models

Animal Symposium

Conveners: Tetsuji Okamoto, Hiroshima University, and J. Denry Sato

The demonstrations that human pluripotent stem cell lines could be isolated from embryos (ES) or induced from differentiated cells (iPS) have held out the prospect and promise of cellular therapies for degenerative or genetic diseases. In addition the ability to generate iPS cell lines from patients with genetic diseases allows those diseases to be studied with new precision. This session will address a method to generate disease-specific iPS cell lines without genetically transforming them and developing disease models based on differentiation of iPS cells. Pluripotent stem cells may hold promise for future cellular therapies, but multipotent adult stem cells may be more likely to give rise to therapies in the near term. The last talk will focus on the application of oral and craniofacial stem cells in regeneration.

Establishment and Characterization of Disease-specific Human iPSCs in Serum-, Integration- and Feeder-free Cultures
Atsuko Hamada, Hiroshima University
Disease Modeling Using Disease-specific iPS Cell Collection in RIKEN Cell Bank
Yohei Hayashi, RIKEN BioResource Research Center
Application of Neural Crest Stem-like Cells Induced from Human Gingiva-derived MSCs in Peripheral Nerve Regeneration
Qunzhou Zhang,University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine


3:15 pm – 5:30 pm

Opening Ceremony and Keynote Symposium

Keynote Symposium

Keynote Speaker:
Synthetic Biology for Engineering Plant Genetic Circuits: from Predictable Electronic-like Functions to Innovative Desalination
June Medford, Colorado State University


7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Student Workshop: Hands on RNA-sequencing Data Analysis

Education Workshop
Moderators: Adrianne Brown, Tuskegee University, and Sepideh Mohammadhosseinpour, Arkansas State University

You have conducted all of your experiments and now that you have collected the data, you are struggling with interpreting your results. Don’t be embarrassed, this problem happens with a lot of graduate students. This workshop will be used as a resource to provide you with a baseline understanding as to how to interpret your transcriptome data. We are requesting for students to bring their laptops with the RStudio software downloaded, to obtain a baseline understanding as to how to analyze whole transcriptome shotgun sequencing. Please fill free to come join us, ask questions and learn from Dr. William Bradley Bardazuk Associate Professor from the Department of Biology at the University of Florida.

William Bradley Bardazuk, University of Florida


Monday, June 10

8:00 am – 10:00 pm

Delivery of Genome Editing Reagents

Plenary Symposium
Conveners: Ajith Anand, CORTEVA AgriscienceTM, Agriculture Division of DowDuPontTM, and Joshua Gasiorowski, Midwestern University

Genome editing technology is powerful tool for modern biotechnology with the potential to modify microbial, plant and animal genomes. The targeted modification of genomic sequences has been accomplished using programmable nucleases, including Meganucleases, zin finer nuclease (ZFNs), transcription activator-like nucleases (TALENs), and the clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeat-associated nuclease Cas9 (CRISPR-Cas9). There is a good understanding of the basic mechanisms of the CRISPR/Cas9 system and its predecessors (Meganucleases, ZFNs and TALENs). Unfortunately, one of the major limitations in genome editing is the ability to “deliver” the different cargo types and editing reagents to a target cell. This session will deliberate on the various vehicles and techniques reported for biomolecule and nucleic acid delivery, and discuss their relative merits. Our speakers will discuss very recent advances using electroporation, diffusion-based, and nanoparticle-based delivery methods currently being explored to effectively introduce genes and genome editing reagents into plant and animal cells for agricultural and medical applications.

Enhanced Gene Delivery Utilizing Non-viral Approaches
Richard Heller, Old Dominion University
High Aspect Ratio Nanomaterials Enable Delivery of Functional Genetic Material Without DNA Integration in Mature Plants
Markita del Carpio Landry, University of California – Berkeley
Current and Future Gene Editing Delivery Methods for Plant Genome Modification
Doane Chilcoat, Applied Science and Technology, Corteva AgriscienceTM Agriculture Division of DowDuPont


10:30 am – 12:30 pm

3D Toxicology: Emerging Technologies Directed Towards the Prediction of Human Responses

Animal Symposium
Conveners: John Harbell, JHarbell Consulting LLC, and Seyoum Ayehuine, MatTek Corporation

Toxicology is moving from an observational science based on macro-responses of surrogate animal species to one based on hypothesis testing to predict effects in the actual species of interest (often humans). This change is by no means complete but is being driven by an understanding that much of the toxic response is based perturbation or activation of critical pathways (Toxicology in the 21st Century) that can be quantitatively different in the species of interest. Understanding these pathways provides physiologically-based guidance for identifying upstream endpoint measures predictive of downstream effects. The proper selection of endpoint measures has become a key element in the development of in vitro toxicological methods. It has also become clear that the exposure kinetics of the target tissue (test system) and the required pathways can be dependent on the 3-dimensional (3D) milieu of that test system. The 3D architecture has a polarized tissue structure, allows more normal cell-cell communication, can include multiple cell types, is characteristic of the tissue in vivo, and provides progressive exposure into the tissue not possible with a single layer of cells. This symposium will focus on next generation of in vitro test methods with particular focus on the emerging technologies in 3D tissue systems and the application of these systems to regulatory toxicology. In the past, developers of in vitro systems (2D or 3D) brought their assays to the regulatory agencies without extensive input from those agencies. Now the agencies are poised to be active participants in the development process and to provide guidance as to specific agency needs.

3D Tissue Models a Critical Component of Regulatory Toxicology in the 21st Century
Warren Casey, National Institute for Environmental Sciences
Cutaneous Models for Evaluating Pollution Induced Skin OxInflammation
Giuseppe Valacchi, North Carolina State University
Three Dimensional Test Systems for Predicting the Degree of Corneal Injury from Topical Exposure to Chemicals
John W. Harbell, JHarbell Consulting LLC



Genome Editing for Crop Improvement

Plant Symposium
Conveners: Kan Wang, Iowa State University, and Harold N. Trick, Kansas State University

Innovations in gene editing and its application in crop engineering have tremendous potential in terms of increasing crop production, enhancing crop protection, and advancing breeding programs. In the symposium we will hear from both academic and industrial scientists who are using gene editing in their research programs. Their progress and lessons learnt from the process can provide the community with new insight for future success.

Applications of Gene Editing to Improve Yield Component Traits in Wheat
Eduard Akhunov, Kansas State University
Genome Editing in Polypoidy Grasses: a Powerful Tool for Ideotype Breeding in Switchgrass and Bentgrass
Shuizhang Fei, Iowa State University
Improvement of Goldenberry and Groundcherry in CRISPR: Ripening the Potential of Undertutilized Fruit Crops
Van Eck, The Boyce Thompson Institute
Improved Targeting Genome Optimization in Plants
Anna-Marie Kuijpers, BASF


Plant Biotechnology Post Doctoral Oral Presentation Competition

Plant Contributed Paper Session
Moderator: Geny Anthony, CORTEVA AgriscienceTM, Agriculture Division of DowDuPontTM

To support the Society’s vision to encourage education and scientific informational exchange and recognize outstanding post docs, the Plant Biotechnology Section is pleased to announce the 2019 Post-Doctoral Oral Presentation Competition. Post-Doctoral Candidates wishing to participate in this competition should submit a copy of their abstract with its title and submission ID number to Geny Anthony (GIAnthony@dow.com) and check that option when they submit their abstract. Competition finalists will be selected based on the quality of the abstracts. The abstract should address the following: Background, Objectives, Methods, Results, Discussion and Conclusions. Where appropriate, the methods section should include a description of how reproducible results were ensured. The abstract must not include references. The abstract text must not exceed 1800 characters. A panel of judges will evaluate the presentations at the meeting. Criteria for the evaluation include experimental design, data analysis, proper interpretation of the results, originality of the study, technical difficulty, appearance and ability of the student candidate to present it. Winners will be presented with a certificate and a cash award at the meeting. Please note that the DEADLINE to submit your abstract for the SIVB Oral Presentation Competition is January 31, 2019.


Plant Biotechnology Student Oral Presentation Competition

Plant Contributed Papers
Moderator: Veena Veena, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

To support the Society’s vision to encourage education and scientific informational exchange and recognize outstanding post docs, the Plant Biotechnology Section is pleased to announce the 2019 Student Oral Presentation Competition. Students wishing to participate in this competition should submit a copy of their abstract with its title and submission ID number to Veena Veena (vveena@danforthcenter.org) and check that option when they submit their abstract. Student competition finalists will be selected based on the quality of the abstracts. The abstract should address the following: Background, Objectives, Methods, Results, Discussion and Conclusions. Where appropriate, the methods section should include a description of how reproducible results were ensured. The abstract must not include references. The abstract text must not exceed 1800 characters. A panel of judges will evaluate the presentations at the meeting. Criteria for the evaluation include experimental design, data analysis, proper interpretation of the results, originality of the study, technical difficulty, appearance and ability of the student candidate to present it. Winners will be presented with a certificate and a cash award at the meeting. Please note that the DEADLINE to submit your abstract for the SIVB Oral Presentation Competition is January 31, 2019.


12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Student Networking Luncheon: Employer Engagement

Education Workshop
Moderators: Adrianne Brown, Tuskegee University, and Sepideh Mohammadhosseinpour, Arkansas State University

Have you been looking for a dream job and/or research position as a graduate student? Have you been searching for networking opportunities or even thought about your future and who can guide you through it? If that’s the case, this is your golden opportunity! Come to the student networking luncheon to find all the answers you have been waiting for. This luncheon will provide students with a chance to interact with professors and experts from various fields, including academia and industry. If a career in academia is what you are seeking, then doctors will be available to assist you and provide you with information about how to designate your resume, research opportunities and grant writing. If students are interested in an industry position, then selected employers will provide you with the proper feedback needed to select major requirements, develop skills, interview questions, etc. During the close, professionals will also share their academic experiences and discuss stressful experiences and how they have coped while pursuing their graduate degrees. Generally, this workshop could simply introduce you to your new research mentor or your boss, collaborator and external internship possibility.


1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

In Vitro Animal Cell Sciences Student and Postdoctoral Oral Presentation Competition

Animal Contributed Papers
Moderators: Addy Alt-Holland, Tufts University, and Kolla Kristjansdottir, Midwestern University

The In Vitro Animal Cell Sciences Section of the Society for In Vitro Biology is pleased to announce the 2019 Student and Post-Doctoral Oral Presentation Competition. This competition serves as a platform to recognize and reward the research work and achievements of outstanding students and talented post-docs. It aims to encourage the exchange of scientific information during the conference and provides an invaluable opportunity for students and post-docs to enhance their public speaking and presentation skills. Those wishing to participate in this competition should check that option when they submit their abstract to the meeting as well as submit a copy of their abstract with its title and submission ID number to the moderators of this session: Dr. Addy Alt-Holland (addy.alt_holland@tufts.edu) and Dr. Kolla Kristjansdottir (kkrist@midwestern.edu). The competition will include three finalists selected based on the quality of the abstracts and the merit of the scientific findings. The abstract text should include the following sections: Background, Objectives, Methods, Results, Discussion and Conclusions. Where appropriate, the methods section should indicate relevant statistical analysis. The abstract text should not exceed 1800 characters, and it should not include references. During the Oral Presentation Competition session, a panel of expert judges will grade the presentations. Criteria that would be evaluated include the experimental design, data analysis, proper interpretation of the results, originality of the study, technical difficulty, professionalism and ability of the finalist to explain the research work and answer questions, as well as adherence to the allocated time for the presentation. The three finalists will be presented with a certificate and a cash award during the conference. The DEADLINE to submit your abstract for the Student and Post-Doctoral Oral Presentation Competition is January 31, 2019.


3:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Importance of Signaling Molecules in Establishing Cell Cultures

Animal Symposium
Convener: Cindy Goodman, USDA, ARS, BCIRL, and Guy Smagghe, Ghent University

Cell cultures serve as valuable tools in agricultural and medical research for both basic and applied studies. They are also heavily used by the industrial sector in high throughput screening assays, mechanism of action studies, and other aspects of product development. The focus of this session will be on the development of cell cultures that express phenotypes predictive of in vivo responses. The first two speakers will discuss the initiation of continuously replicating cell lines, as well as primary cultures, for agricultural applications. The last two speakers will outline signaling transduction mechanisms and their relationship with physiological processes, such as immunity, and cell fate/differentiation. There will also be a discussion on the use of genetic modifications to encourage the development of tissue-specific cell lines.

Establishment of Insect Cell Lines in China to Address Agricultural Issues
Yaofa Li, Ministry of Agriculture, China
Guy Smagghe, Ghent University
Intracellular Cross-Talk in Immune Signaling
David Stanley, USDA, ARS, BCIRL
Genetic Approaches to Rapid Cell Line Generation in Drosophila
Amanda Simcox,  Ohio State University


3:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Protoplast Technology for Genome Editing

Plant Symposium
Conveners: Ian S. Curtis, Plastomics, and Carlos M. Hernandez-Garcia, Calyxt

Protoplasts are osmotically fragile cells which have had their cell wall removed usually by digestion with enzymes. Isolated protoplasts are unique to a wide range of experimental procedures such as protoplast fusion enabling nuclear and cytoplasmic genomes to be combined and DNA transfer for transient and stable transformation in the nucleus and also organelle transformation to produce transplasmotic plants. Several parameters, particularly source of tissue, culture medium, environmental factors, influence the ability of a protoplast to develop into a fertile plant. However, despite over 50 years of research, many species remain recalcitrant in culture. Recently, there has been a resurgence in protoplast systems for rapid screening of gene silencing events through dsRNA, miRNA and siRNA and genome-editing using clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) and transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENS) using high-throughput automated platforms. In this session, we are going to showcase the recent advances in how protoplasts are being used in genomic research to accelerate and design crop improvement.

Improving HDR-mediated Genome Editing Through Plant Protoplast Engineering
Feng Zhang, University Minnesota
Plant Protoplast Automation: Production, Transfection and Screening
Neal Stewart, Jr., University of Tennessee
Application of Protoplast Technology to Plant Improvement in the 21st Century
Jude  W. Grosser, University of Florida


Controlled Environments for Plant Tissue Culture

Plant Symposium
Conveners: Steve McCulloch, Mountains Shadow Nursery LLC, and Jeffrey Beringer, CORTEVA AgriscienceTM, Agriculture Division of DowDuPontTM

Environmental factors present in the tissue culture space that may influence the successful growth of in vitro plant cultures are often discounted or not seriously considered by researchers. Light quality, variability in temperature control, humidity, and gas exchange are all influenced by the choice of engineering controls. Managing all these factors to optimize culture growth can be a complex task. Researchers must make a multitude of design choices to achieve their goals. This session will examine various aspects of manipulating the environment that in vitro plants are grown in and how researchers can use this to their advantage.

Yang Yang, Purdue University


Non-competitive Student Oral Presentations

Education Symposium
Moderators: Adrianne Brown, Tuskegee University, and Sepideh Mohammadhosseinpour, Arkansas State University

The Society for In Vitro Biology (SIVB) takes pride in showcasing some of the most innovative research topics in both plant and animal sciences. Our mission for the non-competitive oral presentations are to provide a platform for student researchers to achieve recognition and share their research work with their peers as well as academic and industry professionals, who can take their projects to the next level without the pressure of competing. This section is designated for those who are looking to gain experience in presenting scientific information, as well as for those who are developing effective scientific presentation skills.


5:00 pm – 6:00 pm

In Vitro Animal Cell Sciences Contributed Paper Session

Animal Contributed Paper Session
Moderator: TBD


Late-Breaking Topics /Young Investigator Presentations in Plant Biotech

Plant Contributed Paper Session
Moderator: Nagesh Sardesai, CORTEVA AgriscienceTM, Agriculture Division of DowDuPontTM

Recombinase Technology for Gene Stacking; from Microbes to Plants
James Thomson,
USDA, Crop Improvement and Genetics Research


Plant Contributed Paper Session – Micropropagation

Plant Contributed Paper Session
Moderator: Maria Jenderek, USDA


8:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Panel Discussion: Future Directions in Development and Applications of Cell Lines

Moderators: Jessica Monserrate, BASF, and John Harbell, JHarbell Consulting, LLC

Speakers representing all In Vitro Animal Cell Sciences sessions will participate in a panel discussion to formulate strategies for the development and application of cell lines to meet future needs in the research community. Discussion points will include: historical perspective of the development of cell lines (lessons learned); how to induce/maintain differentiation in a variety of cell types (including the roles signaling molecules play); pros/cons of using 3D cultures; media development/optimization strategies; best practices for assessing cell phenotypes.


Tuesday, June 11

8:00 am – 10:00 am

Maximizing Gene Editing Target Specificity

Plenary Symposium
Conveners: Annie Saltarikos, Monsanto Company, and Michael J. Fay, Midwestern University

The CRISPR-Cas9 system has become an important method for genome editing in both plant and animal cells providing unprecedented opportunities for crop improvements and therapeutic applications.  A possible important hurdle of this technology is the extent of its off-target activity and despite the importance of these off-target cleavage events, we still lack a full understanding of the biophysical basis for the specificity of CRISPR-Cas enzymes. The speakers in this plenary session will discuss recent developments regarding improvements in the specificity of CRISPR/Cas9 and off-target detection methods

Improving CRISPR-Cas9 Activity and Specificity by Chemical Modification of the sgRNA Backbone
Dan Ryan, Agilent Technologies
Activity and Specificity of CRISPR-Cas9 and Cas12a Systems in Plant Genome Editing
Yiping Qi, East Carolina University


10:30 am – 12:30 pm

Biotechnology and Its Importance for the Citrus Industry

Plant Symposium
Conveners: Randall P. Niedz, USDA-US Horticultural Research Laboratory, and Ahmad Omar, University of Florida

Citrus is one of the most important commercial and nutritional fruit crops in the world but faces a number of challenges including concerns about the environmental impacts of production, farm labor shortages, diverse and changing consumer demands, and the global movement of insect and diseases. Improved cultivars can address each of these challenges. However, the conventional breeding of citrus is difficult because of the combined effects of facultative apomixis, long juvenile periods, high heterozygosity, sexual incompatibility, pollen/ovule sterility, and little knowledge of the inheritance of horticultural traits. Biotechnology provides approaches that can potentially overcome many of these biological limitations, as well as address the challenges, particularly those related to serious diseases. Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening disease, is the most serious citrus disease worldwide. However, HLB is found in many of the major citrus growing areas, making it a significant threat to global citrus production. Producing disease/(HLB)-resistant genotypes using biotechnology is expected to result in cultivars with acceptable consumer traits, have acceptable field performance, and can be produced economically. A range of plant biotechnological techniques and approaches such as cell and tissue culture, genetic engineering, molecular genetics, and genome editing will result in long-term and rapid improvements.

Aiming at Huanglongbing, and the Search for Genetic Ammunition
Fred Gmitter, University of Florida
Application of Biotechnology to Develop Huanglongbing Resistant /Tolerant Citrus Scions
Ed Stover, USDA, US Horticultural Research Laboratory
Generating Disease Resistant Citrus Varieties Using the CRISPR Technology
Nian Wang, University of Florida
Recombinase Technology for Transgene Manipulation
James Thomson, USDA, Crop Improvement and Genetics Research


Recalcitrance in Micropropagation, Regeneration and Transformation

Plant Symposium
Conveners: Jeffrey Adelberg, Clemson University, and Theodore Klein, Meristematic Inc.

Overcoming recalcitrance and expressing competence has been a vexing problem among the community of biotechnologists involved with regeneration and genetic transformation of non-model crop species. For an even longer period of time, recalcitrant and permissive genotypes have made commercial micropropagation of some varieties erratic, when other apparently similar plants are reliably propagated via tissue culture. Recalcitrance and competence are phenotypes, with their expression determined by genetic and environmental factors. Therefore, both environmental and genetic factors need to be considered in efforts to overcome recalcitrance. Our invited speakers will share perspective along an array of basic approaches and practical experiences with recalcitrance. We draw from both academic and commercial practitioners to share their best ideas in understanding and manipulating recalcitrance.

Deciphering the Genetic Mechanisms Underlying Somatic Embryogenesis in Monocot Crops
Heidi Kaeppler, University of Wisconsin
Re-conceptualizing the In Vitro Production Pipeline for Recalcitrant Perennial Crops
Amit Dhingra, University of Washington
A Rapid Sunflower Transformation Method: Applying New Tools to an Old Method
George Hoerster, Corteva Agriscience
Dynamic Transcriptional Regulation of DNA Methylation and Transcription Factors Control the Transition from Non-embryogenic Callus to Embryogenic Callus in Upland Cotton
Christopher Saski, Clemson University


Cellular Agriculture and the Use of Cell Lines for Meat Production

Animal Symposium
Conveners: Lucy EJ Lee, University of the Fraser Valley, and Vivian R. Dayeh, University of Waterloo

As the demand for clean meat increases, scientists are looking for ethically sourced, contaminant-free meats. Invitromaticists (cell culture researchers) have begun to mass produce the meat invitrome, that is, fibroblasts, muscle and fat cells, that are the cellular components of meat, under in vitro conditions. Additionally, molecular biologists and tissue bioengineers are collaborating with the invitromaticians to bring muscle mass for bioreactor production and scale-up. This revolution in meat production without the need to continuously kill animals is spawning new biotech companies specializing in the production of select meat invitromes, ie. using continuously growing cell lines derived from the species of interest, including fish, birds and mammals, for clean meat production. This session will provide a forum for discussion and knowledge sharing of the current state in cellular agriculture or meat invitromatics.

Cellular Aquaculture
Mike Selden, Finless Foods
Breaking Down a Fish, the Cellular Way!
Jennie Tung, Finless Foods
Automation in Cell-based Meat Production
Andra Necula, New Age Meats
Creating Cellular Agriculture as an Interdiscipline
Kate Kruger, New Harvest


3:30 pm – 5:00 pm

3-D Cell Cultures in Cancer Research: Modelling In Vivo Tumors

Animal Symposium
Conveners: Addy Alt-Holland, Tufts University and Brad L. Upham, Michigan State University

Cells grown in traditional monolayer cultures allow scientists not only to study many fundamental biological processes, such as cell adhesion and migration, growth, metabolism and response to different therapeutic agents, but also to decipher and interrogate molecular mechanisms that are involved in these processes. Unlike monolayer cultures, more complex, in vitro 3D models, including spheroids, tumoroids and bioengineered tissues, can better provide cancer cells with physiologically relevant microenvironments, tissue architecture and molecular cues for the development of in vivo-like tumors. These models allow the investigation of complex processes associated with cancer progression, invasion and metastasis, as well as the identification of key signaling pathways that drive these processes. Furthermore, the use of 3D systems in cancer research is critical for the development of new anti-cancer drugs, prediction and validation of their efficacy, improved diagnostic strategies, and advancement of personalized and patient-tailored cancer treatments. This session will highlight the development and applications of 3D tissue models in cancer research.

3D Fibrous Scaffold
Subhra Mohapatra, University of South Florida

Regulation of Morphogenesis

Plant Symposium
Conveners: Prakash Venglat, University of Saskatchewan, and William Gordon-Kamm, CORTEVA AgriscienceTM, Agriculture Division of DowDuPontTM

Stem cells of plants are wired differently to differentiation programs compared to animals. This provides for an iterative process that elaborates the plant body over time, and is developmentally and environmentally regulated. In addition, the organized and well integrated development of embryos, shoots, and roots can be recapitulated in vitro using explants derived from different tissue types. This highlights the inherent plasticity of the plant cell to rewire their morphogenetic states and recover their regenerative potential. Progress in understanding the underlying molecular genetic control of meristem and embryo ontogeny has been spectacular and provides ample fuel to feed new strategies in transformation research. A number of morphogenic genes have been used to improve plant regeneration and/or transformation over the last 20+ years, but recently there has been renewed interest in these methods. Use of morphogenic genes such as WUS and BBM provides a good example of an unfolding story that increasingly facilitates transformation in cereals such as maize, sorghum and wheat. This session will highlight new developments in plant morphogenic gene technology and perspectives on new opportunities.


In Vitro Ecophysiology

Plant Symposium
Conveners: Valerie Pence, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, and Ben Hughes, Agro Technologies, LLC

Plants have developed physiological adaptations to survive a wide range of environmental conditions in their native ecosystems such as photoperiod, water relations, nutrient availability, and soil microbiota. These responses are most commonly observed in vitro through differential growth between species, but also within a species, when grown in a common culture environment. How to address ecophysiological responses in vitro should be considered when producing plants in both the nursery industry and for conservation efforts. The aim of this session is to link ex vitro ecophysiological responses to those in vitro, provide examples using plants from different environments, and demonstrate practical applications for in vitro plant culture.

Larry Zettler, Illinois College
Valerie Pence, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Calvin Anderson, Better Blooming Orchids


Wednesday, June 12

8:00 am – 10:00 am

The Importance of the Microbiome for Animal and Plant Health

Plenary Symposium
Conveners: Mae Ciancio, Midwestern University, and Allan Wenck, BASF

Micro-organisms impact our daily life, the extent of which is becoming more evident with new methodologies and analysis platforms. In this session we will explore the impact of the microbiome on human and agriculture health. Leading studies on microbial alterations associated with inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer will be discussed, with emphasis on the cellular and molecular immunological consequences of an unhealthy intestinal microbial community. Similar to the intestinal microbiome impacting human health and disease, the microbial community that encases plant roots impacts the health and resilience of the plant. How do specific microbial communities migrate to and communicate with the root, fostering resilience to pathogens and periods of drought? Human and plant reliance on microbial community health and diversity will be discussed, fostering the knowledge that we are truly an intertwined community.

Christian Jobin, University of Florida


10:30 am – 12:30 pm

Cannabis Genomics and Biotechnology

Plant Symposium
Convener: Katya Boudko, Canopy Growth Corporation, and Hemant Lata, University of Mississippi

With the ongoing legalization of Cannabis in several different jurisdictions, for research, medicinal and recreational purposes, the industry is advancing quickly to capitalize on the opportunity that comes with it. The Cannabis Genomics and Biotechnology section will provide to the audience an insight into the evolving connection between mass-production of cannabis and the development of molecular screening and breeding tools for this plant. The speakers will share some recent work in cannabis genomics and discuss similarities/differences to decades of comparable work in other crops.


Data Analysis Techniques for Microbiome Research

Animal Symposium
Convener: Kristina Martinez-Guryn, Midwestern University


Genome Editing Technology Development: CAS9 and Beyond

Plant Symposium
Conveners: Piero Barone, CORTEVA AgriscienceTM, Agriculture Division of DowDuPontTM and Todd Jones, CORTEVA AgriscienceTM, Agriculture Division of DowDuPontTM

Over the past two decades, genome editing technologies have been widely adopted with new, simpler reagents replacing the previously existing technologies. Once in use, the limitations and possibilities of the new technologies become evident and improvements soon follow. This session will bring together academic and industry leaders in this rapidly evolving area and will focus on the latest genome engineering tools and their optimization for user-defined specifications, enabling more diverse applications in basic as well as clinical and biotechnological research.

Simultaneous Genome Editing and Haploid Induction in Crops
Xu Jianping, Syngenta Biotech (China) Ltd.
Programmable Genome Editing in Crop Plants
Caixia Gao, Chinese Academy of Sciences


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