Keynote Speakers

Simon Stael


Dr. Simon Stael is a postdoc at the VIB-UGent center for Plant Systems Biology, Ghent, Belgium. He started his studies in plant biotechnology at the University of Ghent, Belgium and finished his Master’s thesis in 2007 at the University of Turku, Finland, in the lab of Prof. Eva-Mari Aro. This started his interest in stress acclimation in plants. During his PhD studies under the supervision of Prof. Markus Teige in the European funded Initial Training Network (ITN) ‘COSI’ (Chloroplast Signals) at the University of Vienna, Austria, he focused on the dynamics of calcium signaling in plants. More specifically on the discovery of organellar calcium signaling components in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. His postdoc position is shared between the groups of Prof. Kris Gevaert (VIB-UGent center for Medical Biotechnolgogy) and Prof. Frank Van Breusegem (VIB-UGent center for Plant Systems Biology). He is now focusing on a group of cysteine proteases, called metacaspases, with the aim to elucidate metacaspase function and their role in plant stress physiology in Arabidopsis. He led an international effort from labs in Ghent, Belgium (VIB-UGent) and Basel, Switzerland (University of Basel) to find the link between metacaspases and immune signals that are rapidly triggered upon physical damage in plants. This new discovery will increase our understanding of the plant immune system and might be exploited to improve crop health and yield in the future. Dr. Simon Stael has published over 20 peer-reviewed publications in the fields of calcium signaling, organelle biology, protease biology, peptide signaling, wounding and plant defence.

Title: Responses of plants to damage mediated by proteases, signaling peptides and calcium signaling