Molecular mechanisms underlying growth and defense in plants


Project Description

When attacked by pathogens, plants allocate their energy and resources into defense responses at the expense of growth. Hence, understanding the mechanisms by which plants prioritize their responses is instrumental for improving plant defense and growth and consequently increasing crop yield. Recently, we have established a link between the defense hormone Jasmonic Acid (JA) and a transcription factor pathway with key roles in development. We have found that the developmental regulators BIRD proteins mediate Jasmonic acid defense response through interacting with core JA signaling pathway genes. The project aims to dissect the molecular framework underlying the dual function of these protein complexes. The identified signaling networks and pathways can then be rewired to allow simultaneous growth and defense. we will use the following tools: RNAseq, genome editing tools, fluorescence microscopy imaging amd a range methods for detecting protein-protein interactions in vitro and in vivo.
Program - Plant Science
Division - Biological and Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Center Affiliation - Center for Desert Agriculture
Field of Study - ​Developmental biology, cell biology

About the

Ikram Blilou

Professor, Plant Science<br/>Chair, Plant Science Program

Ikram Blilou

Professor Blilou' s research focuses on how plant cells communicate to transfer positional information and to instruct specific functions during pattern formation. This involves studying regulatory networks that control protein movement and asymmetric cell division in plant roots, by mapping protein complexes in vivo at the cellular resolution, and by unraveling how their distinct spatial distribution leads to specific gene expression and proper cell fate acquisition.

Professor Blilou's research group also aims to understand molecular mechanisms of growth/defense trade-offs in plants by unraveling how the same set of developmental genes can regulate defense response under stress conditions. The team also intends to understand adaptive strategies used by desert plants (using date palms as a model) to survive in hostile conditions.

Desired Project Deliverables

​The gained knowledge will be used to generate resistant crops with optimal growth behavior using genome editing tools.​