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Julia Carabias, UNAM (Mexico)
Special guest speaker 

She completed her undergraduate and postgraduate studies (1973-1981) in the Faculty of Sciences of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). She is a Full-time Professor in the Department of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Faculty of Sciences.

She has taught courses since 1977, as well as in other academic institutions, in subjects such as Plant Ecology, Natural Resources Management, Environmental Restoration and Public Entreprises. Her research has been published in a large number of journals and textbooks on the topics of tropical forest regeneration, environmental restoration, natural resource management, ecology and production systems, global change, poverty and the environment, water management, conservation of ecosystems and environmental policy.

Some of the texts she has written and in which she has collaborated are: Ecology and Food Self-sufficiency; Rural Production in Mexico: Ecological Alternatives; For Earth's Sake; Management of Natural Resources and Rural Poverty; Water, Environment and Society; Climate change; and One hundred successful cases of conservation of the natural heritage; Usumacinta: bases for integral management.

Between 1984 and 1994, she coordinated the Rural Research and Development Program for the Integral Use of Natural Resources (PAIR), an inter-institutional program in which the UNAM, the federal government and four state governments participated, as well as rural organizations and private initiative, aimed at rural communities in extreme poverty in four regions of Mexico. The objective was the search for alternatives to use natural resources that improve the living conditions of the population without detriment to the environment. She is founder of the Latin American Training Center for the Conservation of Biodiversity in the Lacandona Selva region, Chiapas.

She was a member of the Commission on Developing Countries and Global Change, which produced the report of For Earth's Sake, for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Brazil in 1992. She was also a member of the High Level Panel on Global Sustainability of the General Secretary of the United Nations, which prepared the report Resilient People, Resilient Planet: a future worth choosing, for the Summit of Sustainable Development to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.

In February 1994, she was appointed President of the National Institute of Ecology, a decentralized agency of the Ministry of Social Development. In December 1994 she was invited by the President of Mexico to be Secretary of the Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries, of which she was head of the Government until 2000.

She was a member of the Commission on Developing Countries and Global Change and Chairman of the Scientific Technical Panel of the Global Environmental Fund (GEF). In 2000 she received the Getty Prize awarded by Word Wildlife Fund; In 2004 the Cosmos International Prize, in 2005 the United Nations Environment Program awarded Julia the "Champions of the Earth" Prize and in 2011 the recognition "Nature, Territory and Society: Alexander Von Humboldt" awarded by the University of Guadalajara, Mexico.

Annegreth Kohler (INRA, France)
Monday morning keynote speaker (Evolution)

Annegret Kohler is a researcher in the "Tree-microbe interactions" research group at INRA Grand-Est Nancy in France. Her research is focused on the biology of trees and the associated forest fungi and their role in forest ecosystems. She is particularly interested in mycorrhizal symbiosis and in characterizing the molecular mechanisms established during development and functioning of this mutualistic interaction, as well as to understand the evolution of symbiotic fungi from saprotrophic ancestors.

Annegret Kohler received a PhD in plant physiology and molecular biology at the University of Kaiserslautern/Germany in 1996. During her postdoctoral research she worked on Priming as a mechanism in induced systemic resistance in plants. In 2000 she joined the INRA group, first as a postdoctoral fellow, since 2006 as a permanent staff member. During the last 10 years she was involved in many genomic projects and in particular in charge of the transcriptomic analyses within these projects. She published over 50 scientific papers related to transcriptomics, genomics and tree-microbe interactions.

María José Pozo (Estación Experimental del Zaidín, CSIC, Spain)
Monday afternoon  keynote speaker (Interactions)

Maria J.  Pozo is biologist and a scientific researcher at the Estación Experimental del Zaidín from the CSIC, the Spanish National Research Council, in Granada, Spain Her group is interested on how beneficial soil fungi, and in particular arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, boost plant immunity inducing systemic resistance against pathogens and pests. She is particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms regulating plant defenses by the symbiosis, their impact in multitrophic interactions, and the context dependency of the symbiosis impact on plant health. The final aim is to optimize mycorrhizal applications for sustainable crop protection. Please see their webpage for more information:

During her PhD at Granada University, under the supervision of Prof. Jose Miguel Barea and Prof. Conchi Azcón-Aguilar she studied mycorrhiza induced resistance of tomato plants against the soil borne pathogen Phytophthora parasitica. Then she was a Postdoc at Prof. Kenerley´s lab in Texas A&M University, studying functional genomics of the biocontrol fungus Trichoderma virens. Later she was a Marie Curie Postdoctoral fellow at Porf. Pieterse lab at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, studying the signaling pathways regulating defense priming and induced resistance by beneficial soil bacteria in Arabidopsis. Currently she is head of the mycorrhiza and biotic stress lab within the Mycorrhiza group at the department of Soil Microbiology and Symbiotic Systems, Estación Experimental del Zaidin, CSIC, in Granada, Spain.

Jan Jansa (Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Rep.)
Tuesday keynote speaker (Physiology/Ecology)

Jan Jansa graduated in biology at Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic) in 1997, then continued with doctoral studies in agricultural sciences at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland (1999-2002). He spent one year (2003-2004) at the University of Adelaide (Australia) with Prof. Sally Smith before returning to Swizerland, where he worked at ETH Zurich until 2011. Thereafter, he moved back to Czech Republic where he currently heads the Laboratory of Fungal Biology at the Institute of Microbiology, Czech Academy of Sciences. He is interested, among others, in large-scale biogeography of mycorrhizal fungi, cost and benefits in mycorrhizal symbiosis, trading of nutrients for carbon between symbiotic partners, and utilization of organic nitrogen by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and their associated host plants, in concert with associated hyphosphere microbiome.

Matthias Rillig (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)
Thursday morning keynote speaker (global change)

Matthias Rillig studied biology at Universität Kaiserslautern (Germany) and University of Edinburgh (Scotland), and then moved to the US, where he earned his Ph.D. at University of California Davis/ San Diego State University. After a postdoc at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Stanford, he moved to University of Montana, where he was assistant and then associate professor of Microbial Ecology. In 2007, he relocated to Freie Universität Berlin, where he is professor of plant ecology and director of the Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research.

Matthias’ group works on soil ecology in general, with a focus on fungi, including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. The group works on numerous topics, including the role of biota in soil aggregation, and the effects of global change on soils.

Helena Kahiluoto (Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland)
Thursday afternoon keynote speaker (sustainability debate)

Helena Kahiluoto is a professor in Sustainability Science in LUT University, Finland, adjunct professor in agroecology in the University of Helsinki, and Senior Fellow of agricultural soil science in Göttingen University. Her group is working with sustainability of food-energy-water nexus in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, searching for synergistic solutions to enhance food and nutrition security through mitigating climate change and water eutrophication. Resilience, fairness and circular economy within the nexus, across systems levels and scales, are in the focus of her group.

Helena did her PhD in University of Helsinki, Finland, her thesis being the first one in arbuscular mycorrhiza in her country. The ecology of the arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis and its potential role in sustainable agriculture and food systems has been one focus of her through her career, and still is. Helena has been leading a research station, a national research program, and a degree program, and acting as a research director in the University of Helsinki. For the last ten years, she has chosen to focus on research and education leading her own research group.

Richard Phillips (Indiana University, USA)
Friday keynote speaker

Dr. Phillips' research program focuses on how plants and microbes mediate energy flow and nutrient dynamics in temperate forests – the largest terrestrial sinks for carbon globally. While there is a rich history of empirical research and theory on how and why forests differ in their functioning, much of this research has been shaped by a “surface bias”, such that processes occurring in soils are often not considered explicitly. Dr. Phillips' research addresses this gap by focusing on the hidden half of ecosystems, where roots and associated microbes (including symbiotic fungi) interact with soil minerals and soil organic matter (SOM) to control how energy, nutrients and water are cycled and linked. 

Nearly all tree species associate with a single type of mycorrhizal fungi: AM vs. ECM fungi. Plants that associate with AM fungi differ from plants that associate with ECM fungi in a suite of nutrient use traits. Likewise, AM and ECM fungi differ in their nutrient use traits. Given well-established links between trait variation and putative “biogeochemical syndromes” in ecosystems, Dr. Phillips proposed the Mycorrhizal-Associated Nutrient Economy (or MANE) hypothesis, which predicts that trees and microbes that associate with different types of mycorrhizal fungi possess an integrated suite of stoichiometrically-constrained traits that both reflect and determine biogeochemical variation across landscapes or within regions. Research in the Philips lab has sought to test this hypothesis using a complementary suite of field experiments, mesocosms and mathematical trait-based models.