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Current Research (PhD Thesis):

Virtually all life depends on the sunlight-fueled photosynthetic process in green plants. Plants expose themselves to, and actively seek out light, which exposes them naturally to UVB as a ubiquitous and unavoidable stress when grown under real world conditions. Depending on geographical location, plants are exposed to variable amounts of UVB radiation and herbivore attack. Because the role(s) of UVB in the priming and/or accumulation of plant defense metabolites against herbivores are not well understood, we used field-grown Nicotiana attenuata plants to explore the effects of UVB on herbivore performance.

In parallel to wound-induced defense responses, plants can also detect feeding of herbivores and reinforce their defenses via perception of herbivore-associated elicitors, such as Nicotiana attenuata’s recognition of fatty acid-amino acid conjugates (FACs) in oral secretions (OS) of Manduca sexta larvae. However, signal transduction of FACs, and how it connects with downstream plant defenses is largely unknown. We identified a novel herbivore elicitor (FAC)-regulated protein in N. attenuata (NaHER1) and a novel NaWRKY9 that are strongly up-regulated in response to oral secretion from Manduca sexta, a specialist herbivore of N. attenuata. These expression patterns suggest that NaHER1 and NaWRKY9 might be directly involved in plant-herbivore interactions. I am now using molecular, analytical and ecological tools to unravel the role of NaHER1 and NaWRKY9 in plants defense.
last updated on 2013-05-27