SENSORS Short Description

Understanding the interaction between plant and pathogens/herbivores is crucial to ensure long lasting and environmentally friendly system for plant protection. Potato is one of the most important crops with yearly production of about 350 million tons. Worldwide, the most economically important potato pathogens are the oomycete Phytophthora infestans and the virus potato virus Y (PVY), while its most important insect pest is the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata L.).

In plants, pathogen or pest attack initiates a complex signaling network, orchestrating massive changes in gene expression and extensive reprogramming of metabolism. For an efficient response, the activation of plant immunity must be rapid, efficient and targeted. The combination of signaling modules that is elicited in a specific pathosystem differs in composition, magnitude and timing  leading to the specificity of response with the outcome that can be beneficial either for the plant or for its attacker. To disentangle the complexity of immune signaling network, it is crucial to understand the dynamic properties of the system.

To study systems dynamics, high-resolution spatiotemporal data are needed to feed well the model. For this, noninvasive data collection based on the implementation of sensors and live cell imaging is optimal as it provides linked data with sufficient density that can capture the responsiveness of the system .

The objective of the proposed research project is to understand the features of plant immune signaling response that lead to the specific outcome of the interaction, either sensitivity, tolerance or resistance using a combination of systems biology, synthetic biology and cell biology elements.

We hypothesise that the dynamic properties of the network are the key determinants of effectiveness and specificity of the response.

In order to attest it, we have set the following specific objectives:

  1. design of novel sensors of potato immune signaling
  2. setup of a protocol for live cell confocal microscopy and image analysis in potato
  3. application of developed sensors to study signaling in potato
  4. identification of key potato immune signaling properties using mathematical modeling

The project will consist of four scientific work packages in line with the set specific objectives and one WP dedicated to dissemination, exploitation of results and data management.


Project ID: J4-1777
Duration: 1.7.2019- 30.6.2022