AREAS OF RESEARCH
1. Disease resistance in plants
In the wild, plants are exposed to a broad range of different microorganisms, some of which are pathogenic and can cause disease. As such, plants have evolved specific recognition systems to discern between neutral or beneficial and harmful types. Intracellular receptors of the NB-LRR type allow pathogen recognition through direct or indirect sensing of so-called pathogenic effectors. These are molecules deployed by pathogens to suppress early defense. RPP1-like NB-LRR receptors enable the recognition of certain effectors from the oomycete Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis, a natural pathogen of Arabidopsis thaliana populations. Interestingly, RPP1-like genes are highly variable within and between populations, thus providing a rich pool of genetic variation for the recognition of evolving pathogenic isolates. However, even though variation should positively contribute to overall fitness of plant populations, it also has unwanted side-effects. One of such side-effects is the occurrence of immune-related hybrid incompatibility between individuals carrying different RPP1-like variants. Hybrid incompatibility is manifested in stunted growth and sterility.
t the interface between plants and pathogens
We study the evolution of disease Resistance genes and other loci that condition plant immune activation in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana. We make use of natural populations of plants and pathogens to address molecular and evolutionary aspects of pathogen recognition in the wild. At the direct interface between plants and the environment, we study how temperature modulates some NB-LRR triggered plant immune responses.more about
2. Polyamines and abiotic stress tolerance
Polyamines, mainly putrescine, spermidine, spermine and thermospermine are small amines which accumulate in response to abiotic and biotic stress in many plant species. In collaboration with Prof. Tiburcio at UB, we investigate the implications of polyamines in plant stress protection from a genetics and molecular perspective. more about