New chairs for the ProMusa working groups

Inge Van den Bergh Wednesday, 05 September 2012

The members of the three ProMusa working groups – Crop Improvement, Crop Protection and Crop Production – have elected a new chair and co-chair for the coming years. Robert Miller has been “promoted” from co-chair to chair of the Crop Improvement working group, with Edson Perito Amorim taking his place as co-chair. The Crop Protection working group welcomes Randy Ploetz and Danny Coyne, as chair and co-chair respectively. Jeff Daniells and Thierry Lescot will chair and co-chair the Crop Production working group over the coming years.

Crop Improvement working group

Robert Miller has a background in plant pathology and molecular biology. Between 1991 and 1997, he was employed at CABI Bioscience working on molecular characterization and epidemiology of oil palm pathogens, in collaboration with counterparts in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Based in Brazil for the last 15 years, he has worked in close collaboration with the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), the Catholic University of Brasília (UCB) and the University of Brasília (UnB), where he is currently a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Cell Biology. In 2006, Robert spent a 6 month period at CIRAD, France, working on mapping of Resistance Gene Analogs in Musa. He is also an active member of the Global Musa Genomics Consortium, working across the following research areas: Comparative analysis of Musa and rice genome structure and organization; EST databank development for M. acuminata (focus on expression data for black leaf streak); Resistance Gene Analog characterization in M. acuminata; and Next generation sequencing approaches for transcriptome analysis in Musa.

Edson Perito Amorim is responsible for the Banana Breeding Program at Embrapa Cassava and Fruits (CNPMF), Brazil. He is an agronomist, with a PhD in Genetics and Plant Breeding. He has a broad experience in biotechnology, conventional breeding, molecular breeding, molecular markers and quantitative genetics. In 2012, his research group will launch the hybrid ‘BRS Platina’ (Prata type, resistant to Fusarium wilt race 2 and Sigatoka leaf spot). Edson was the convenor of the 2011 ProMusa symposium in Brazil.

Crop Protection working group

Randy Ploetz is a Professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida’s Tropical Research & Education Center (UF-TREC). His primary responsibilities are on the etiology and management of diseases of tropical fruit crops, including banana, avocado, mango, passion fruit, guava, papaya and citrus. Randy received the International Service Award of the American Phytopathological Society (APS) in 2008. He is a former Editor-in-Chief of APS Press, Director of APS’s Office of International Programs, Associate Editor of Phytopathology, and a current APS representative to the International Society of Plant Pathology. Randy is not new to the ProMusa community: he has served two terms as the Chair of the former ProMusa Fusarium Wilt working group, and has spoken at or helped organize sessions at several meetings. He has contributed to our understanding of several banana diseases, most importantly Fusarium wilt. He was the first to describe vegetative compatibility groups (VCGs) in the causal fungus, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc), as well as VCG 01213-01216 which comprises tropical race 4 (TR4). He was the first to describe the phylogeny and origins of this pathogen and to report that Foc contains different phylogenetic species.

Although traditionally a nematologist, Danny Coyne has become increasingly involved with broader soil health and pest management aspects, in banana and plantain, as well as other crops. He has been with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for over 10 years; he is currently based in Tanzania, but previously based in Uganda as well as Nigeria. Prior to this, he has worked in pest management and extension on a range of crops across a range of countries in sub-Saharan Africa, since 1989.

Crop Production working group

Jeff Daniells has been employed by the Queensland state government, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries a (DAF) as a horticulturist on banana research and development for 31 years. During that time, he has studied many subjects including varieties, plant spacing, irrigation requirements, fertilizer strategies, bunch management, maturity staining and diseases. He has written over 350 articles in the scientific and grower literature, has participated in many international banana conferences and has travelled extensively investigating banana production systems around the globe. Living in Queensland, he will be well placed to organize and assist with the next planned ProMusa/ISHS banana symposium which will be part of the IHC in Brisbane, Queensland in 2014.

Thierry Lescot is currently working as an agronomist at CIRAD’s headquarters in Montpellier, France, but has over 20 years of international experience in research and development projects in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. He has a broad knowledge of banana agronomy and cropping systems, varietal diversity, seed systems, agroecology, intensive crop management, pests and diseases diagnosis and management, quality of fresh and processed products and agricultural economics. He has also worked on banana taxonomy, crop modeling and decision support tools, innovation systems, producers' organizations, organic agriculture, standards and labels, environmental risks and assessments (LCA methods), observatories and statistics (production and markets, national and international), and has been involved in training and extension activities. Since 2008, he is the vice president of the Association for Cooperation in Banana Research in the Caribbean and Tropical America (ACORBAT).

Please join me in welcoming the new chairs and co-chairs. We’d also like to sincerely thank the outgoing chairs – Mike Smith, Alice Churchill, Jean-Michel Risède, Zaag de Beer and Stefan Hauser (Robert Miller stays on) –  for their commitment and invaluable contributions to ProMusa over the past 5 years.