Invited speakers

1st Session

‘Proteas micropropagation – A Review’

Dr. J.F. Pérez-Francés

University of La Laguna. Spain

Juan Felipe Pérez Francés holds a PhD in Biology (Plant Physiology) from The University of La Laguna (Canary Islands, Spain). Dr. Pérez-Francés is currently a university professor of the Botany, Ecology and Plant Physiology Department of University of La Laguna where he teaches different modules on General Biology and Plant Physiology, including Plant Biotechnology.

His main research interests remain on Plant Tissue Culture and Micropropagation. Recent scientific focus has been on micropropagation of Proteaceae. He has been responsible for planning and leading several research projects including three projects, six research publications and two doctoral graduates concerning to some Proteaceae species and cultivars.

2nd Session

‘Breeding Leucospermum for improved horticultural characteristics,
disease tolerance and cultivation in tropical climates’

Dr. K.W. Leonhardt

University of Hawaii. U.S.A.

Ken W. Leonhardt holds a PhD in Horticulture from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (USA). Ken is a professor of Horticulture in the Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Hawaii where he teaches crop science courses and chairs the Graduate Faculty and chairs the inter-department undergraduate academic program in Tropical Agriculture and the Environment.

His research interests include inducing sterility in prolific seed producing landscape ornamentals, and developing tropical forms of Leucospermum hybrids. He has published over 40 articles or posters on protea variety improvement.

3rd Session

‘Evolutionary adaptation of plants to phosphorus deficiency: the
multifaceted role of proteoid roots’

Dr. A. Silber

ARO. Volcani Center. Israel

Avner Silber holds a PhD in Soil Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Rehovot, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Title of thesis: "Chemical properties and surface reactions of pyrocalstic materials from Mount Peres, The Golan Heights". Dr. Silber was head of department of soil chemistry, plant nutrition and environmental physiology, Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center. Nowadays, Dr. Silber is a soil scientist in the Northern R&D Israel. Dr Silber published more than 50 articles in reviewed journal, eight book chapters and 60 articles in non-reviewed journal. Dr. Silber served as chairman of the Chief Agricultural Scientist Reviewing Committee for Soil and Water Sciences and in the BARD Reviewing Committee for Agriculture and the Environment.

The main research interests of Avner Silber are:

  • Chemical reactions in the rhizosphere.
  • Phosphorus reactions in soil and mechanisms of phosphorus uptake by plants.
  • Soilless culture, and fertigation methods.
  • Nutrition of plants originating from the south hemisphere.
  • Irrigation methods to optimize nutrient uptake by plants: high fertigation frequency, subsurface drip irrigation.
  • Physiological disorders induced by nutrient deficiency such as chlorosis, blossom-end rot or heat damage.
  • Optimal irrigation and fertilization methods for avocado and mango orchards.


4th Session

‘Pruning cut-flower Proteas’

Dr. D.G. Malan

Fynflor. South Africa

Gerhard Malan holds a PhD (Agric) from Stellenbosch University, which focused on the Studies on the reproductive development of Leucospermum cv. Red Sunset with special reference to photoperiodic and hormonal control. Currently mainly working in Western and Eastern Cape in South Africa serving 50 clients with agricultural advice on a regular basis growing about 900 ha of Protea intensively, and producing about 20 million flowers stems of mainly about 50 Protea varieties annually.

The main research interest of Dr. Malan are:

– Prospects of delaying flowering time of Leucospermum
– Improving stem length and flower quality of Leucospermum with growth regulators
– Effect of photoperiod and shoot decapitation on flowering of Leucospermum ‘Red Sunset’
– Flower structure and the influence of day length on flower initiation of Serruria florida Knight. (Proteaceae)
– Propagation of Proteaceae
– Correlative inhibition of inflorescence development in Leucospermum cv  ‘Red Sunset’
– Role of the developing inflorescence in the loss of responsiveness to flower inducing short days in Leucospermum
– Inflorescence development in Leucospermum cv ‘Red Sunset’ effect of benzyladenine and changes in endogenous cytokinin concentrations
– Preliminary investigation into the effect of time of pruning on the shoot growth and flowering time of Protea.
– Crop Science of Proteaceae in Southern Africa: progress and challenges

5th Session

‘The search for innovative technologies to ensure best postharvest
practices for Proteaceae cut flower products’

Dr. L. Hoffman

University of Stellenbosch. South Africa.

Lynn Hoffman holds a PhD (Agric) from Stellenbosch University, which focused on the use of Benzyl adenine to chronize flushing and initiate inflorescence on Protea, with Prof. Gerard Jacobs as promotor. Hoffman is currently a Senior Lecturer and Chair of the Department of Horticultural Science at Stellenbosch University where she teaches a module on Ornamental and foliage production of international importance, also to include the production and physiology of some of the South African indigenous flora.

Her research interests remains on the control of flowering time in Proteaceae as well as all aspects affecting long-term cold storage and sea freighting of Cape Flora products. Recent focus has been on alleviating leaf blackening in Protea as well as considering causes for chilling injury in the foliage of Cape Flora with long-term cold storage. Studies also included investigating controlled atmosphere storage conditions to optimize sea freighting container settings to minimize desiccation, while not risking low O2 stress or high CO2 toxicity. Hoffman serves on the Board of the Cape Flora SA and acts as treasurer for the International Protea Association (IPA).

6th Session

‘Proteaceae Plant Protection – an Overview from Portugal’

Mrs. M. J. Leandro

Flora United Farm. Portugal

Maria Leandro holds a Degree in Agriculture Engineering from the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Technical University of Lisbon (Lisbon, Portugal) and a Master in Molecular Genetics of Plants from the University of Lisbon (Lisbon, Portugal).

Maria Leandro is currently the technical field manager of the company Flora United Farm, Portugal. Since working with Proteas she did some research work on pest and disease of Proteaceae, at the farm level, and some work on breeding and variety selection.