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EUCARPIA Genetic Resources 2017

Programme summary


Keynote speakers

Conference keynote

Claire Billot is group leader at Cirad, in the AGAP (Amélioration Génétique et Adaptation des Plantes) research unit. During her scientific career, she has been involved in studying interactions between plants and humankind, focussing on the plant as an entry point. Trained as an agronomist in Paris, she specialized in evolution and population genetics. She did her PhD research in marine biology, studying the impact of harvesting on the recovery of populations of brown algae (Laminaria digitata). She followed up with two post-doctoral positions targeting Southeast Asian marine environments impacted by human activities (mangrove trees, marine angiosperms). She was then appointed by Cirad and worked mainly on the structure of genetic diversity of cultivated crops. She is now leading a multi-disciplinary team (DDSE, Dynamique de la Diversité, Sociétés et Environnements) involving human sciences and genetics in order to better integrate societies and societal viewpoints in relation with the valorisation of existing diversity as well as the production of new diversity during the improvement process.

Session 1 keynote

Stef de Haan is a researcher with a particular interest in contemporary on-farm management and use of crop genetic resources with a geographical focus on the Andes and Southeast Asia. His main research focus has been on understanding the conservation status of genetic resources under farmer management, including population genetics, ongoing evolution, seed systems, geospatial patterning and drivers affecting conservation. Stef currently works for the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Vietnam. Previously he worked for the International Potato Centre (CIP) and Dutch Development Cooperation (PSO).

Session 2 keynote

Niels Louwaars is director of Plantum, the association of companies in the Netherlands dealing with plant reproductive materials. Trained as a plant breeder at Wageningen University, he spent about 10 years in Asia and Africa working in seed projects before returning to Wageningen University. There he worked for 20 years in different positions dealing with international cooperation and research. Based on that international experience, he developed the concept of Integrated Seed Sector Development, providing policy space for a variety of formal and informal seed systems. His PhD dealt with the interplay of policies and regulatory issues related to such seed systems and plant genetic resources, including intellectual property rights (WTO), national sovereign rights on biological diversity (CBD and ITPGRFA), Farmers’ Rights (ITPGRFA), and national seed laws. During that period he assisted several countries and institutions like the World Bank and FAO in designing their policies in this area. In Wageningen he was also manager of a major international interdisciplinary programme and represented the organization in the CGIAR. He was also a member of the Plant Breeder’s Rights chamber of the district court in The Hague. Currently he represents the Netherlands seed sector nationally and internationally.

Session 3 keynote

Isabelle Goldringer has a PhD in plant breeding from the National Institute of Agronomy, Paris-Grignon (INA-PG) and has worked at INRA as a scientist in quantitative genetics and plant breeding. She is currently senior scientist (Directrice de Recherche) at INRA (Gif-sur-Yvette, France) and has been group leader of the team Diversity Evolution and Adaptation of Populations (DEAP) since 2009. Her research focuses on the dynamic management of crop diversity and the development of diversity-based strategies for more sustainable agro-ecosystems.Isabelle develops research in evolutionary genetics applied to subdivided self-pollinating populations with a particular focus on the middle-term effects of selection on genetic diversity, and on the adaptive mechanisms involved in response to plant x plant interactions and to local selection. She also conducts more applied research using knowledge of the mechanisms governing the evolution of experimental wheat populations to design more efficient modalities for the dynamic management / in situ conservation of the genetic diversity of cultivated species and to set up participatory breeding programmes involving farmers’ networks. These approaches particularly address the context of organic agriculture and other low-input agricultural systems.

Session 4 keynote

Mauricio Bellon is Principal Scientist at Bioversity International. Previously he was Programme Director, Diversity for Livelihoods Programme, at the same institution. He leads research on the reasons, incentives and dynamics of crop diversity in agricultural systems—both at the inter-specific and infra-specific levels—in the developing world; the use of participatory methods in the development of agricultural technologies relevant for the rural poor; and on the impacts of new agricultural technologies on farmers’ livelihoods. He has worked for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He received his MSc and PhD in ecology at the University of California, Davis and his undergraduate degree in agronomy from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico. He has more than 90 scientific publications and extensive international experience. He is a member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences.

Field trips proposed on Wednesday 10 May 2017

#1. Camargue

We will visit a reserved natural site of ​​1200 hectares at the junction of two remarkable ecosystems that are the Rhone delta and the stony desert-like Crau. The Vigueirat Marshes are one of the most remarkable properties of the Conservatoire du Littoral (French coastal conservation authority) in the Camargue.

In this exceptional site, we will discover a great floristic diversity with a mosaic of natural wetlands where more than 2000 plant and animal species live : over 300 species of birds have been observed, including all species of herons of Europe, and up to 35 000 ducks in winter; five herds of Camargue bulls and horses grazing on the field.

The natural heritage of the Vigueirat Marshes is recognized nationally and internationally. Classified National Nature Reserve, it is a central zone of the Biosphere Reserve of Camargue.

At the heart of the marshes, we will enjoy a guided tour along a 1km-walk with hides and observation towers.

#2. From the genes to the bottle 

Montpellier region is a major wine-producing area and benefits from an important scientific and technical community on topics related to grapevine and wine.

We will first visit the Grapevine Biological Resources Center (BRC) at Domaine de Vassal in Marseillan ( ). Created in 1876, it is nowadays managed by INRA, and holds the richest collection of grapevine genetic resources in the world, with about 7800 accessions : cépages, interspecific crosses, rootstock varieties, wild grapevines and other Vitaceae species. The BRC is devoted to the conservation and study of these resources.

We will then go to Domaine du Chapitre in Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone (domaine-du-chapitre ). This estate, managed by Montpellier SupAgro (National Institute of further education in agricultural science), is an experimental and pedagogical platform dedicated to viticulture and oenology. The EUCARPIA delegates will be presented the main experiments and activities, visit the winery and have a wine-tasting session.

#3. Agropolis

Visit the research facilities of Agropolis institutes:

- infrastructures related to genetic resources conservation ( )

- CBGP insect collections ( : mites, insects, nematodes and rodents collections (more than 1 million samples)

- the Montpellier European Ecotron, an experimental research infrastructure dedicated to the study of ecosystems, organisms and biodiversity in the context of environmental changes ( )

#4. Fruits, vegetables and Romans

This tour will offer three stops, including one at a major historical site.

  • CTIFL (Balandran, Nîmes area, 60 kms away from Montpellier)

Located in the heart of one of the main French production areas of  vegetables and fruits, the CTIFL (Centre technique interprofessionnel des fruits et legumes/ Interprofessional technical centre for fruits and vegetables), a non-profit organization, aims at supporting the fruit and vegetable cultivation. All its experiments, training activities and publications aim at improving the expertise necessary in all sectors of the fruit and vegetable industry, as well as improving performance of private companies.

The center of Balandran focuses on locally grown species (peach, apricot, apple, pear, cherry, strawberry, tomato, eggplant, pepper, zucchini, lettuce, garlic, carrot and melon), and grow several collections aimed at varietal evaluation.

  • Visit of the Sorbus collection of INRA
  •  Visit of the Pont du Gard

The Pont du Gard ( is an ancient Roman aqueduct built in the first century AD to carry water from a spring at Uzès to the Roman colony of Nemausus (Nîmes). The Pont du Gard is the highest of all elevated Roman aqueducts, and, along with the Aqueduct of Segovia, one of the best preserved. It was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1985 because of its historical importance.

#5. Wheat : from the field to the plate

We will first visit a farmer involved in wheat participatory breeding and who holds a collection of bread and durum wheat (60 kms away from Montpellier).

The tour will then take the EUCARPIA delegates to the INRA experimental research station in Mauguio to visit the high throughput field and post-harvest phenotyping platforms and the maize genetic resource collection

Post-conference tours proposed on Friday 12 May 2017

#6. Livestock, cheese and Romanesque art : an (agri-)cultural heritage

Departure time from Montpellier city center: about 8:30 am

Return time : about 7:00 pm

This tour will take the participants to the Languedoc inland countryside, which strongly contrasts with coastal landscapes around Montpellier.

About 100 kms northeast of Montpellier, the “Parc naturel régional des Grands Causses” (parc-grands-causses) is an alive territory shaped by a thousand-year-old agro-pastoralism based on sheep livestock. Two sites will be visited in this area:

  • the experimental station of INRA, domain of La Fage, where research activities are conducted on livestock (sheep breeds Lacaune and Romane) and on pastures;
  • the  natural cellars where the famous blue cheese Roquefort is processed from ewes' milk, in the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.

On the way back to Montpellier, participants will discover Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, a charming medieval village and its abbey, a jewel of Romanesque art. Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

#7. Land and water : agri- and aquaculture in Languedoc

Departure time from Montpellier city center: about 9:00 am

Return time : about 5:30 pm

This tour will show participants several aspects of agricultural production in Languedoc, the Montpellier region.

The tour will include the visit of the cellars of a wine producing domain and a wine-tasting session.

The participants will then head to the “Etang de Thau”, a lagoon that stetches along the Mediterranean sea 40 kms east of Montpellier. The Etang de Thau is a riech ecosystem and an area of oyster and mussel aquaculture. An oyster farmer will explain the participants the whole farming cycle.

Finally, the participants will discover the process of oil production from olive tree, the emblematic tree of the Mediterranean basin.