Monday, 15 September

Pre-conference Workshop
Biodiversity Conservation: the Plant and Pollinator perspectives to enhance ecosystem services

17:30-18:30 Guided Tour of the Botanic Garden

20:30 DINNER

Tuesday, 16 September

Definitive Programme

Book of Abstracts (download)


Opening and registration


1st Symposium: “Reproductive barriers in plants: male-sterility and self-incompatibility”
Organizer/Chairman: Stefano Del Duca – University of Bologna, Italy

Along with male-sterility, self-incompatibility is one of the most effective reproductive barriers operating in angiosperms. Male-sterility refers to either absence of pollen grains or presence of non-functional ones: it prevents self-pollination and allows cross-pollination, finding applied utility for breeding hybrid varieties. It is known that male-sterility can be caused either by mitochondrial genes with coupled nuclear genes or by nuclear genes alone. Models of male sterility and fertility restoration have been discussed also in terms of evolutionary significance of reproductive systems. Self-incompatibility is adopted by many flowering plants to prevent inbreeding, thus maintaining diversity within species, being considered one of the most important causes for the spread and success of angiosperms on the earth. The self-incompatibility response is genetically controlled by one or more multi-allelic loci in both sporophytic and gametophytic systems, and relies on a series of cellular interactions between pollen and pistil. Although self- incompatibility functions ultimately to prevent self-fertilization, flowering plants have evolved several unique mechanisms for rejecting the self-incompatible pollen, some still unexplored at the molecular level.

Invited speakers:
- Martin Goldway (Tel Hai College, Israel)
Other speakers to be selected.

2nd Symposium: “Reproductive modes in plants: sexuality vs. apomixis”
Organizer/Chairman [to be confirmed]:
Giulio Galla – University of Padua, Italy

Seed is one of the key factors for the perpetuation of angiosperm species. Therefore, a comprehension of the mechanisms underlying seed formation in crop and model plants is crucial for the quantitative and qualitative progress of agricultural production. In angiosperms, two pathways of reproduction through seed exist: sexual or amphimictic, and asexual or apomictic; the former is largely exploited by seed companies for breeding new varieties, whereas the latter is receiving continuously increasing attention from both scientific and industrial sectors in basic research projects. If apomixis is engineered into sexual crops in a controlled manner, its impact on agriculture will be broad and profound. In fact, apomixis will allow clonal seed production and thus enable efficient and consistent yields of high- quality seeds, fruits, and vegetables at lower costs. The development of apomixis technology is expected to have a revolutionary impact on agricultural and food production by reducing cost and breeding time, and avoiding the complications that are typical of sexual reproduction (e.g., incompatibility barriers) and vegetative propagation (e.g., viral transfer).

Speakers to be selected.

11:15-11:30 COFFEE BREAK


3rd Symposium: “Nectar: plant interface for interactions with biotic environment”
Massimo Nepi – University of Siena, Italy

Floral and extra-floral angiosperms’ nectar is undoubtedly recognized as a valuable energetic alimentary resource for a large variety of animals. According to recent studies, nectar mediates interactions that are much more complex than previously thought establishing a network of relationships between plants, animals and microorganisms too. The complex dynamics of these interactions and their consequences for plants’ reproduction are almost unknown.

Invited speakers:
- Geraldine Wright (Institute of Neuroscience, University of Newcastle, UK): “Sipping from a poisoned chalice: plant drugs, toxins, and pesticides in nectar and their influence on bee behavior”
- Clara de Vega (Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Sevilla, Spain): “Interactions among plants, pollinators and nectar microbial communities: patterns and effects”

Other speakers to be selected.



4th Symposium: “Plant mating and animal pollination: a complex natural system”
Marta Galloni – University of Bologna, Italy
Laura Bortolotti – CRA-API Bologna, Italy

Pollination is a key mutualism between plants and animals: the plant gains reproductive success and the pollinator obtains -usually- some kind of reward. Ecosystems functioning strictly depends on these complex interactions, that are also essential for agro-ecosystems and humans. Plant mating systems and biotic pollen transfer have been the focus of attention for natural scientists during the last centuries: they are still actively debated by biologists, naturalists and ecologists, providing insights into evolution and adaptation processes, in a changing natural world subject to an increasing biodiversity loss.

Invited speakers:
- Theodora Petanidou (University of the Aegean, Mytilene, Greece): “Pollinators and pollination challenge: the Mediterranean case”
- Tomas Rodriguez-Riaño (Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Extremadura, Spain): “Is main sugar composition of floral nectar determined by pollinators in Scrophularia species?”

Other speakers to be selected.