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NOVA PhD Course "Plant-Associated Bacteria: Pathogens and Mutualists" - Open for Applications

The course will take place on 23-27 May 2016, in Mikkeli, Finland. Application period: 20 January - 1 March 2016.

The course is of 4 ECTS and is organised by Professor Jari Valkonen, University of Helsinki - Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.

Course information website
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Course Description
The only Nordic postgraduate course emphasizing prokaryotic plant pathogens was organised in 1987. This course will provide updated knowledge on the virulence mechanisms of the culturable bacterial pathogens (soft rot Enterobacteriaceae, e.g., Pectobacterium and Dickeya species, former Erwinia); the antibacterial defence mechanisms of plants; new bacterial pathogens of crop plants with emphasis to non-culturable (fastidious) bacteria such as Candidatus Liberibacter species and phytoplasmas; and bacterial communities in rhizosphere (root surface), phyllosphere (on plant surface) and inside plants (endophytes); epidemiology of bacterial pathogens including vectors and alternative hosts; and the means to control the bacterial diseases.


  • Three lectures by van Bruggen on ecosystem-related aspects and three lectures by Jackson on biocontrol and phytosanitary aspects. Both will run a workshop with students on those topics. Results will be presented orally (augmented by audiovisual means) by the students.
  • Other teachers will each give a lecture on the topic of their expertise (see below) and participate in other activities.
  • Students will present their own thesis research orally in poster session.
  • Students will study a substantial amount of appointed literature prior to the course and discuss them in groups (local teachers will participate).
  • Excursion to Mikkeli University Center (biological control of diseases; environmental studies; organic farming) – 15 km from the course site
  • Discussive atmosphere will be encouraged during all learning moments.


  • Prof. Ariena H.C. van Bruggen, Univ Florida, USA: Ecosystem health in relation to the invasion by bacterial plant pathogens, which disturbs the dynamically balanced and diverse community of organisms, stability and resilience. Her expertise is needed to put the bacterial disease problems and their control to context in an agricultural ecosystem.
  • Prof. Robert W. Jackson, University of Reading, UK: Mechanisms of biocontrol of bacterial plant diseases and control of plant-contaminating human and animal pathogenic bacteria. He will lecture about the bacterial phytosanitary aspects and run a workshop.
  • Dr Minna Haapalainen, University of Helsinki: Newly described Candidatus Liberibacter species and phytoplasmas.
  • Dr Minna Pirhonen, University of Helsinki: Virulence factors of soft rot bacteria.
  • Dr May-Bente Brurberg, Norwegian University of Life Siences (NMBU): New bacterial species causing soft rot in plants.
  • Dr Paula Persson, SLU: Diagnostics of plant pathogenic bacteria.
  • Dr Dan Funck Jensen, SLU: Interactions of plant-pathogenic or growth-promoting bacteria and fungi.
  • Dr David Collinge, University of Copenhagen: Use of endophytic bacteria in plant protection.
  • Dr Mari-Anne Newman, Transport Biology, University of Copenhagen: Defence responses of plants to pathogenic bacteria.
  • Dr Jari Valkonen (course leader), University of Helsinki: Pathogenic and antagonistic Streptomyces species.

Please find more information on the course and how to apply on the course information website:

Published 31. October 2016 - 18:06 - Updated 23. May 2017 - 19:15