Invited Speakers

Prof. Sijun Zheng

Prof. Sijun Zheng

Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, China

Speech Title: The spread of Fusarium wilt of banana TR4 and its comprehensive management

Abstract: Fusarium wilt of banana, caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc), especially Tropical Race 4 (TR4), seriously threatens banana production worldwide, especially in banana exporting countries. The best strategy to control TR4 is a multiple stakeholder approach which brings together governmental agents, NGOs, scientists and banana farmers to work on two aspects. One is the prevention and managing strategy: early warning system through diagnosis in areas where epidemics are occurring and (adjacent) areas where the pathogen is not yet found for surveillance, containment, eradication and exclusion of banana Fusarium wilt. In no infected areas, clean starting materials using tissue culture plants are highly recommended. In the nursery process fresh and TR4-free soil are absolutely needed in order to prevent to infect banana seedling before planting. For infected areas, containment measurements are also very useful for slowing down spreading of TR4. The second path is support of research, to development resistant cultivars by conventional somaclonal selection or molecular breeding, cultivar substitution, verifying the effect of cultivar mixtures/intercropping system, e.g., cover plant, crop rotation, ecological intensification, and screening and identifying beneficial microbiomes in suppressive soil. Comprehensive approaches combined with TR4 evaluation, utilization from local accessions and breeding new varieties adapting to local ecological conditions will be the future direction to combat TR4. Biological control of banana fusarium wilt receives increasing attentions for its sustainable production. We proposed a tritrophic biocontrol interaction relationship of bacteria-pathogens-bananas. The colonization of biocontrol bacteria in banana roots will be key factor for effective suppression of pathogens. Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy and new developed molecular techniques could be used to monitor RFP-labelled bacteria exhibit chemotaxis towards green fluorescent protein (GFP)-labelled TR4 hyphae in banana plants. In conclude, we can provide a new theory for the interaction between the biocontrol bacteria, TR4 and banana plants, and provides new ideas for the biological prevention at early stage in nursey and control of banana wilt for sustainable production.



Dr. Saddam Hussain

Dr. Saddam Hussain

Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan
Speech Title: Use of Plant-based Superabsorbent Polymers for Enhancing Agricultural Productivity in Marginal and Stress-prone Areas: Overview and Prospects

Abstract: Agriculture is considered as the backbone of Pakistan's economy and millions of people in the country directly rely on this sector for their food and livelihoods. Nevertheless, the rapidly increasing population, shrinkage of land and water resources, climate change, and stagnant agricultural growth are threatening the food security and livelihood of the rural population. In Pakistan, approximately 6 mha area is affected by soil salinity, while 5 mha area is covered by Cholistan and Thal. The crop yields in these areas are quite low, and a big yield gap exists between the potential yields and actual yields attained at the farm level. However, these areas may contribute a significant share towards national agricultural production and the economy of Pakistan, by adopting appropriate and cost-effective technologies that support soil water conservation, reduce direct evaporation losses, enhance stress tolerance, and improve soil water balance. Biodegradable and superabsorbent polymers (BSPs) can be used as an efficient, sustainable, and environment-friendly approach to ensure the profitable cultivation of crops in marginal and stress-prone areas. Application of BSPs may increase the water and nutrient holding capacity, reduce irrigation requirement, ensure uniform water consumption, facilitate rapid root growth, minimize nutrient losses, and enhance soil physical properties. Nevertheless, most of the superabsorbent polymers particularly from synthetic sources are too costly and are difficult to apply on a field-scale by resource-poor farmers. Moreover, synthetic polymers are not easily degraded in soil and may cause environmental pollution. It is, therefore, inevitable to focus on the production of BSPs with plants/microbes, and their hybrids which are environmentally and economically acceptable for the farming community. Dr. Saddam Hussain is the pioneer scientist working on the synthesis of novel plant-based BSPs from agricultural waste. He has successfully tested the efficacy of these polymers under different abiotic stresses including salinity and drought. Here, he will comprehensively discuss the potential use of BSPs for enhancing crop productivity and resource use efficiency in marginal and stress-prone areas. He will highlight the current state of knowledge, new progress made along with future research trends, and major challenges hindering the wide-scale application of BSPs in Pakistan.

Keywords: Abiotic Stresses; Biodegradable and superabsorbent polymers; Crop Productivity; Sustainability



Prof. Olivier Andre SPARAGANO

Prof. Olivier Andre SPARAGANO

Professor of Veterinary Parasitology and the Acting Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Public Health, City University of Hong Kong, China
Speech Title: The dual role of the black soldier fly: food waste recycler and new animal feed: risks and opportunities

Abstract: In Hong Kong, food waste constitutes about one-third of total municipal solid waste which is mostly landfilled (Environmental Protection Department, 2017). Landfilling leads to problems like loss of biomass, and contamination of underground water and soil (Melikoglu et al., 2013).
Circular economy is not only brings huge economic gains by transforming waste into by-products such as new food protein sources but is almost a necessity in Hong Kong when space is at a premium. HK has one of the highest human density and therefore has also one of the highest food waste density. Hermetia illucens, also known as the black soldier fly (BSF) has been successfully used to reduce manure waste (Miranda et al, 2021), faecal sludge management (Lalander et al, 2021) or plant-based waste (Singh et al, 2021) or to feed different animal species such as fish (Abdel-latif et al, 2021), Chinese soft shelled turtles (Li et al, 2021) or pigs (Kar et al, 2021). To avoid filling the landfill sites up with food waste which could be recycled, black soldier flies are already used by very successful HK SMEs.
BSF larvae meal is well suited as feed component for aquaculture and poultry nutrition because of its high protein, fat, and mineral content (Surendra et al., 2020). The protein and fat composition of the larvae depends on the substrate they are fed (Ewald et al., 2020). Under experimental conditions, a blend of silkworm pupae and wheat bran substrate yielded the highest (56%) crude protein content (El-Dakar et al., 2021), while fruit waste substrate yielded the highest (47.4%) fat content (Meneguz et al., 2018). Furthermore, the fatty acid composition of the larvae also depends on the fatty acid composition of the substrate (Makkar et al., 2014) and plays an important role in future industrial development in the insect feed sector (Giannetto et al., 2020). Particularly, BSF larvae can accumulate various omega-3 fatty acids, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA) from microalgae residual, silkworm pupae, and fish offal substrates (El-Dakar et al., 2021, 2020; St-Hilaire et al., 2007). These polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), especially the omega-3 fatty acids, are known for beneficial health effects such as anti-inflammatory properties, reduced cholesterol levels, and prevention of cardiovascular diseases (Ander et al., 2003).
The working hypothesis is that the choice of waste substrate fed to the larvae determines the fatty acid composition of the meal made of the larvae. There are various waste sources potentially available for insect rearing in Hong Kong and our objective is to identify the waste substrate that yields the highest PUFA content of the meal. This will support further progress in the insect meal production industry by adding beneficial health effects to the final products (fish or egg for instance).

Keywords: Black Soldier Fly, Edible insects, food waste recycling, insect-based agriculture




More invited speakers would be updated soon....



Dr. Zichen Huang

Dr. Zichen Huang

Researcher, JSPS International Research Fellow
Laboratory of Bio-Sensing Engineering
Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University
Speech Title: Fluorescence imagings for non-destructive inspecting strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) in postharvest stage

Abstract: As one of the most popular fruits in the world, the strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) is a fruit with a sweet and distinctive flavour, but with a soft texture that spoils quickly. A low-cost method is needed to distinguish perishable strawberries from normal fruit in a non-destructive way, as well as the deterioration of strawberries during storage. In this study, a machine vision system is presented for inspecting the quality of strawberries using ultraviolet (UV) light. Related experiments in postharvest stage validated the effectiveness of the proposed method. The results show that UV fluorescence imaging can be used as a fast, non-destructive and low-cost method to classify perishable and normal strawberries at an early stage, as well as to detect the deterioration of strawberries during storage. These findings suggest that strawberries are prone to rapid postharvest deterioration and can be sorted using UV-fluorescence imaging, which is a realtime, non-destructive, and low-cost sensing method. Meanwhile, the proposed method can be used for non-destructively estimate the deterioration level of a strawberry.

Keywords: Strawberry, fluorescence imaging, non-destructive, postharvest