Research project: Trace elements are essential for plant growth and development, and for plant-environment interactions. They are involved in plant metabolism as enzyme cofactors (e.g. Cu, Fe, Zn, Mn), in redox reactions and electron transport (Cu, Fe, Mn), gene expression and transcription factors (Zn). The project aims to elucidate the mechanisms of metal-regulated plant responses to biotic stress such as fungal pathogens using different model plants. To achieve this, plants will be grown under metal deficient (Zn, Mn, Cu, Ni, Fe), optimal and metal excess conditions and exposed to pathogens under simulated environmental conditions. Currently, two model systems are established: Glycine max- hemibiotroph Phomopsis longicolla and Capsicum annuum-necrotoroph Botrytis cinerea. Fast responses to the pathogens will be monitored in vivo by measurements of element distribution and chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics by imaging techniques. Metabolome, metalloproteome and transcriptome profiling will be performed on harvested samples. Finally, candidate metal-regulated genes which promote plant immunity should be proposed.
The prospective PhD student will be able to learn various genetics, molecular biology and plant physiology techniques including metalloproteomic analysis by HPLC-DAD/ICP-MS, qPCR, QISH, microscopy techniques, chlorophyll fluorescence kinetics, and analysis of antioxidative metabolism.
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