Keynote Speakers



Ajit Varma, Director of the Amity Institute of Herbal and Microbial Studies, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India and former Professor of Microbial Technology, Jawaharial Nehru University, New Delhi. Ajit’s research has involved applications of mycorrhizal fungi. Overall, he has published nearly two hundred articles and fourteen books associated with microbial technology. He has recently begun work as the editor of twenty-five volumes on Soil Biology. Ajit has received numerous international awards, including fellowships with the Alexander von-Humboldt program in Germany, the National Science Foundation, and the Indo-Czechoslovakia exchange program.
Heddi Abdelaziz, Associate Professor, UMR INRA/INSA de Lyon, Biologie Functionelle, Insectes at Interactions, Villeurbanne, France. Heddi’s research focus has been the physiological roles of intracellular bacteria within insects such as the weevil. He originally entered this symbiotic research field through doctorate work with Professor Paul Nardon. Heddi and colleagues have shown that weevils harbor not only Wolbachia bacteria but a gamma-proteobacterium, Sitophilus oryzae. He is involved in several collaborations, including investigating the interplay between the insect immune system and the genetic regulation of the bacteria’s virulence so as to shed light on host-bacterial molecular interactions involved in the initial steps of symbiosis establishment.
      Ute Hentschel , Group Leader, Research Center for Infectious Diseases, Wurzburg, Germany. Ute received her doctorate from the Scripps Oceanographic Institute where she worked with Horst Felbeck. Applying a number of molecular biology techniques, she continues to investigate bacterial association in marine sponges. She has been on numerous research ocean cruises and field studies. Ute is on the editorial board of Marine Biotechnology and is organizing a symposium in Wurzburg for next year, “Novel agents against infectious diseases.”
      Thomas Miller , Professor of Entomology, University of California, Riverside, USA. Tom has had a long and distinguished research and teaching career at Riverside. He has been particularly focused on agents that can control insect populations, particularly and recently symbiotic controls. Tom is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and the recipient of the 2003 J. Gregor Mendel Gold Medal from the Czech Academy of Sciences. He has served as Chairman of the Board of the Entomological Society of America and served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Insect Science and the Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology.  
      Luis P. Villarreal , Professor at the University of California at Irvine and Director of the Center for Virus Research, ORU, USA. Luis has recently published an important book through American Society for Microbiology (ASM) press, Viruses and the Evolution of Life. He is a leader in studying the implications of viruses on life forms, with particular interests in the linkage of viruses to symbiotic systems over time. He has served as chair or keynote at numerous meetings, including the Gordon Conference on Animals Cells and Viruses, the Noble Foundation Conference on Virus Evolution, and the International Congress on Nidoviruses in Italy. He has collaborated with numerous researchers in work and published in journals such as Gene Therapy, Virology, the Journal of Molecular Evolution, and the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society.  
      Matthias Horn , Assistant Professor, Department of Microbial Ecology, University of Vienna, Austria. Matthias and colleagues have discovered a novel bacterial phylum associated with sponges called “Poribacteria.” The bacteria show compartmentalization features usually associated only with eukaryotes. He also continues work on a group of endosymbionts related to chlamydiae. For example, work has recently been completed on the first complete genome sequencing of a protozoan endosymbiont. Recent research has appeared in Nature, Science, Applied Environmental Microbiology, FEMS Microbiology Letters, the European Journal of Protistology, and Microbiology. He is an accomplished teacher and lecturer and serves on the organizing committee of this 5-ISS Congress.  
      Colleen Cavanaugh, Edward C. Jeffrey Professor of Biology, Harvard University, USA. Colleen focuses on the chemosynthetic symbiosis, particularly in habitats such as deep sea hydrothermal vents. Recent efforts have explored RubisCO and the evolution of autotrophy. She has been widely recognized for her research and teaching quality, including the Phi Beta Kappa teaching prize and the International Recognition of Professional Excellence Prize from the Ecology Institute of Oldendorf/Lufe in Germany. She has been a Harvard Junior Fellow and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology.  
      Gopi Podila, Professor and Chair of Biology, University of Alabama, USA. Gopi’s research has involved the functional genomics of plant-microbe interactions, as well as fungal genomics and plant molecular biology and biotechnology. He has been particularly active in the molecular biology of mycorrhizae associated with poplars and aspens. His work also examines the impacts of greenhouse gases on plant-fungal communities. He has over 80 research publications, including in New Phytologist, Plant and Soil, and Mycorrhiza. He served as the Chair of the New Frontiers in Mycorrhiza Research of the 7 th International Mycological Congress in Norway, and is currently a governing councilor of the International Symbiosis Society.  
      Mary E. Rumpho, Professor of Marine Studies and Biochemistry, University of Maine, USA. Mary’s research focuses on the biochemical, molecular and developmental studies of the symbiotic “solar-powered” sea slug, Elysia chlorotica. This mollusk sequesters and retains intracellularly chloroplasts from the alga, Vaucheria litorea, enabling the seas lug to live much a like a green plant or alga for several months. Elysia serves as a unique model for studying potential lateral gene transfer, symbiosis in evolution, and photosynthesis. She is currently completing the full sequencing of the chloroplast genome of Vaucheria litorea. Her presentation on kleptoplasty at 4-ISS in Halifax was highly received.  
      Marc Andrè Selosse, Professor, University Montpellier II, France. Marc Andre's main research focuses on mycorrhizal symbiosis, but he is recognized also as an excellent symbiosis theoretician. Key research themes have been the evolution of acholorophylly in forest orchids, the role of microflora in Quercus ilex-dominated forests, and the structure of basidomycete mycorrhizal populations. He is an outstanding instructor, including at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Lyon and the University of Paris VI. He has written a book on symbiosis in French, La Symbiose: Structures et functions, role ecologique et evolutif (Vuibert, Paris, 2000) and has over forty refereed papers in a wide variety of journals.  

Lynn Margulis , Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, USA. The primary inspiration for many researchers and educators who are now "hooked on" symbiosis, Lynn is one of the acknowledged pioneers in modern evolutionary thinking and symbiotic research. From her seminal "Origin of Mitosing Cells" published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology thirty five years ago to today, she has interwoven findings, ideas, questions into a profound tapestry that greatly enriches the field of biology. Here Ph.D. in Genetics was from the University of California, Berkeley. She has authored or co-authored more than 20 books and 100 refereed papers.

She is a selected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. She received the highest honor awarded to American scientists, the National Medal of Science from President William Clinton. She is an original proponent and authority on James Lovelock's "Gaia Hypothesis," and consistently works to show the importance of symbiogenesis on earth.

Her commitment to science education has resulted in numerous published audio-visual materials and curricula, including as the co-founder of the international Microcosmos program with the current ISS President. She is a governing councilor in the ISS

      Angela Douglas, Professor of Biology, University of York, United Kingdom. Angela is one of the most accomplished leaders in the symbiosis field. Her research is mainly concerning the nutritional physiology of aphids with their bacterial symbionts. Her laboratory applies molecular/genomic and physiological/ biochemical techniques to investigate nutritional interactions in symbiotic systems, microbial diversity and abundance of symbionts in insects, and how aphids thrive on their nutritionally unbalanced diet of phloem sap. Her current research involves the integrative physiology of sugar and amino acid utilization by the aphid-bacterial symbiosis and the impact of plant phloem composition on aphid pest populations on potato crops. She is a governing councilor of the International Symbiosis Society.  
      Margaret McFall-Ngai, Professor of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA. Margaret has made profound contributions to symbiosis research through her long-time investigations on the Euprymna scolopes (squid) – Vibrio fischeri (bacterium) relationship. Her lab uses the squid-vibrio light organ system as a model to pose questions such as how does the host recognize its specific symbiont? How are environmentally rare bacteria harvested from the host’s habitat during the onset of horizontally transmitted symbioses? How is the symbiont’s population regulated? Margaret has published in many of the world’s most significant journals. She is a governing councilor of the International Symbiosis Society.  
      Todd Lajeunesse, Assistant Professor of Marine Biology, Florida International University, USA. Todd is centrally involved in the dynamics of the coral-dinoflagellate symbiosis. His work has involved discerning and characterizing of the specific array of Symbiodinium species. Todd’s research feeds a more complete and necessary understanding of the influence of enhanced global warming on coral reef ecology: What factors promote and prevent change sin coral-dinoflagellate partner combinations? What are the physiological limits of these symbionts and under what conditions? How have coral-algal symbioses responded to previous climate changes?  
      Wolfgang Löffelhardt, Professor of Biochemistry, University of Vienna, Austria. Wolfgang has contributed greatly to our understanding of the symbiotic evolution of plastids. He has particularly focused on the autotrophic protist, Cyanophora paradoxa and its reduced cyanobacterial organelles, known as cyanelles. Presently, his lab continues to show the details of protein translocation into and within cyanelles. He and his colleagues continue to characterize as many components of the unique carbon dioxide concentrating mechanism of C. Paradoxa. Wolfgang is a Vice-President of the International Society for Endocytobiology (ISE).  

Takema Fukatsu, Professor of Zoology, University of Tokyo, Japan. Takema is one of the world’s foremost investigators in insect-microbe interactions. He is a professor in the Department of General Systems Studies within the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo. His research has particularly focused in recent years on the impact of Wolbachia and Buchnera with host insects, including evolutionary relationships, transcrip tome analysis, and physiological influences. He has over seventy publications including in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science, Applied Environmental Microbiology, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, among others.