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2021 Speakers

Benigno Villalon

Benigno Villalon, Speaker at Plant Biology Conferences
Texas A & M University, United States
Title : Development of Disease and Insect Resistant Capsicums


Viruses are ultramicroscopic particles of different shapes and sizes that can only be observed under an electron microscope. They are made up of genetic RNA (ribonucleic acid) and or DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) bundles wrapped up in a protein coat.

They are neither alive nor dead but are somewhere in limbo and are the smartest parasites in the world. Their main goal is to reproduce themselves inside a living host cell causing various metabolic effects and disease that may kill the host. If the host is strong enough (resistant) to destroy the virus, the virus might mutate to a stronger entity to survive but not kill the host.

Animal viruses (aka zoonotic viruses) have been in existence for billions of years. They can easily be transmitted (zoonosis) to other animals and humans. Bats can readily transmit these viruses by direct or close contact to both humans and animals.  Bats, because of their extreme flying and exercise activity, have an unusually strong immune system (resistance) that can cause viruses to mutate for their survival. These stronger viruses are then transmitted to other animals and humans.  Humans who are physically fit and nutritionally healthy without underlying conditions with strong immune systems and are infected, oftentimes remain symptomless, resisting severe virus reaction, but can transmit these viruses unknowingly a few days before and after fully recovering. Such could be the case in COVID-19. Thus, always wear a face mask and keep away from everyone, 6 to 10 feet or more.

This virus has had a significant impact on a global scale on lives lost and severe economic losses. It presents dangers in that there is no pre-immunity, some vaccines are being tested, as are some drugs/treatments, is highly infectious, and everyone is susceptible.This virus may be mutating towards weakening or strengthening?

We will survive because these great scientists will develop a good vaccine real soon. There are about 160 new experimental vaccines, several look very promising in phases II and III, and almost ready for approval. Thousands of volunteers are being tested. A successful vaccine is coming real soon. Science may not get it right the first or second time, but science will get it right, eventually.We are learning something new about this abnormal and dangerous parasite every day. We will be ready for the next pandemic. Stay healthy!

Ben’s second installment deals with the total success story of breeding for heritable and sustainable genetic virus and insect resistance in Capsicums at The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Texas A&M University, Weslaco, Texas.


Dr. Villalon, a full Professor and a senior resident research scientist at the Texas A&M University Research and Extension Center in Weslaco, Texas has authored over seventy-five scientific, refereed journal publications related to his pathology and breeding achievements. Ben’s professional affiliations include the American Phytological Society with associate membership in the U.S. Southern, Mexican and Carribbean Divisions; the American Society for Horticultural Science; the Rio Grande Valley Horticultural Society (past president and secretary); Texas Association of Plant Pathologists and Nematologists and Gamma Sigma Delta Agricultural Honor Society. Dr. Villalon has served as a member of the Texas A&M University Graduate Faculty and has participated on fifteen different graduate student committees at both the M.S. and Ph.D. levels.

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