16th World Congress On Parasitic Plants
July 03 – 08, 2022, Nairobi, Kenya
About the Conference
WCPP is a series of biennial meetings organized by the International Parasitic Plant Society (IPPS: https://www.parasiticplants.org/). The tradition started in Malta in 1973 and provides a platform for experts on parasitic plants from all over the world to exchange ideas and discuss recent progress made in the field of plant parasitism. The 15th WCPP was held in Amsterdam in July 2019 and more details can be found here: https://www.parasiticplants.org/wcpp-meeting/wcpp2019-amsterdam-the-netherlands/
About the Hosts
Damaris Achieng Odeny
Cluster Leader – Genomics, Pre-breeding and Bioinformatics
Damaris Achieng Odeny is a plant molecular breeder working at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Her interest in parasitic plants goes back to her childhood, when she was regularly asked by her parents to weed out Striga from their maize and sorghum fields. Striga, also known as witchweed, is one of the most devastating weeds in western Kenya, where Damaris grew up. Focused on trying to help her parents manage the weed, Damaris is now researching more on the best management strategies for Striga in sorghum and finger millet fields. She also coordinates all Striga activities at ICRISAT. Damaris is delighted to be one of the hosts of the upcoming conference and warmly welcomes all participants to Nairobi.
Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology
Steven is an Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at Kenyatta. He obtained his first degree in Biochemistry in 1998 at Kenyatta University. He then did a Masters degree in Biotechnology at the same University in 2003. Upon completion, he obtained a PhD fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation to study Biotechnology in a sandwich program between Kenyatta University and the University of California Davis where he worked with Prof Neelima Sinha. His PhD was obtained in 2008.
Steven took up a faculty position at Kenyatta University in 2009 as a Lecturer then proceeded to the University of Sheffield as a visiting scientist where he worked with Professor Julie Scholes with funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). In 2013 he worn a Fellowship from the United Stated Agency for International Development (USAID) for another visiting scientist position at the University of Virginia where he worked with Prof Mike Timko.
Steven has had a long-standing research in parasitic plant biology. His initial work was demonstration of active mRNAs exchanged between parasitic plants and their hosts. This paved way for using the concept of host-induced gene silencing to provide resistance against parasitic plants. These initial experiments were carried out in tobacco and Cuscuta.
To transfer the technology of host induced gene silencing to other parasites of economic importance in Africa (Striga), Steven started experiments in sorghum and maize genetic transformation at Kenyatta University. His current work involves identifying sources of Striga resistance from cereals. Stevens group was able to demonstrate Striga resistance in wild sorghum germplasm and maize and millets.
Genetic loci underpinning these resistances are currently being explored using genomics.
Currently, his group is using gene-editing to introduce Striga resistance in sorghum and as a functional genomics in Striga-sorghum interactions
The video is a message from the President, International Parasitic Plant Society, Prof. Dr. Harro Bouwmeester, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam
WCPP2019 offers an exciting and varied scientific program. In addition to this engaging scientific program, there will be time for social events.
About the venue
Nairobi is a major conference destination and has been named Africa’s leading business destination twice (2016; 2019) by the Annual World Travel Award.