© Ute C. Vothknecht

Comparative analysis of early stress responses between the model plant Arabidopsis and the crop plants barley and potato

Adaptation of plants to short term environmental changes in form of abiotic and biotic stresses requires the controlled interplay of various signaling and response pathways. Early responsive systems that react to stresses include Ca2+ signaling, reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and various phytohormones. While many of the aspects of early stress responses are studied on an individual level, i.e. for a single stress or a single response pathway, the interplay of different systems under often multiple concurrent stresses is much less investigated. Furthermore, much less is known about these response pathways in crop plants compared to the model plant Arabidopsis.

We are thus currently comparing early stress responses between Arabidopsis, barley and potato ( Our lab uses a set of biosensor to investigate Ca2+, phytohormone and redox changes in vivo in response to abiotic stimuli either by plate reader-based analysis for large scale measurement or by fluorescence imaging. In a complementary approach gene reporter lines are used to elucidate transcriptional changes of genes responsive to these signaling pathways.

Our group furthermore aims to understand the role of phytohormons, especially the role of jasmonates, on early stress signaling. One focus is the regulatory role of jasmonates on priming of stress responsive transcription. We operate with phytohormone treatments and classical genetic approaches, to explore the impact of altered hormone levels on plant performance under abiotic stress conditions, such as drought, cold and heat. We furthermore use targeted (RT-qPCR) as well as untargeted (RNA-seq) transcript analysis combined with bioinformatic data-analysis.

Ultimately, we combine Ca2+-inhibitor studies, hormone treatments, oxidative stress treatments and biosensor analysis, to unravel the interconnections between second messenger and phytohormone signaling. Large scale Omics datasets are used to provide detailed knowledge of ROS and Ca2+ signaling responses in crop plants, such as barley.

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