Plant Stress Signalling and Adaption - Vanesa Beatriz Tognetti
Plant Stress Signalling and Adaption - Vanesa Beatriz Tognetti

Research areas

  • ROS-auxin crosstalk regulatory network underlying plant stress adaptation
  • Plastid ROS-redox signaling on the response of plants to stress and on hormone homeostasis
  • Stress-perturbed auxin signaling on photosynthesis modulation

Main objectives

  • To decipher how environmental and developmental signals are integrated by ROS-auxin crosstalk
  • To unravel how the interaction between ROS and hormones synchronizes stress-induced growth reorientation and photosynthetic performance, which are vital for plant survival
  • Discovery of stress avoidance genes and new stress tolerance strategies to improve crop performance under changing global conditions

Content of research

Environmental cues represent major hardships to crop productivity worldwide. Therefore, elucidation of plant stress adaptation networks has become a main biotechnology research objective. In this sense, our research aims to discover target genes from the ROS-auxin regulatory network driving plant adaptations to environmental hardships.

Besides evolutionary adaptations that have shaped the development of plants and led to the diversity of forms in existence today in all kind of habitats, plants can also respond to rapid and often very substantial fluctuations in their environments. In contrast to animals, plants cannot move away from negative stimuli. To deal with this lack of mobility, plants have developed adaptation strategies by which they adjust their patterns of growth and development in response to the environment. It is now clear that two of the main players in plant adaptation responses are reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the auxin hormone. However, knowledge of the regulatory events governing ROS and auxin interplay is at this point still superficial. In this respect, molecular insight into the nature of ROS-auxin crosstalk remains insufficient. On the other hand, environmental factors primary affect photosynthesis, compromising plant growth and yield. Basically, photosynthesis acts as a global stress sensor activating photosynthesis adaptation and stress responses, which directly affect ROS and auxin homeostasis. We use several approaches, including phenotypic and genetic screenings for in-depth characterization and identification of the regulatory components of the ROS-auxin crosstalk underlying stress induced morphological responses. We are also interested in ROS-redox chloroplast signalling that drives stress adaptions and survival in plants and its interplay with the auxin pathway. In this sense, we are focussed in chloroplast processes that may be subject to auxin regulation and the possible role of chloroplast metabolism on auxin homeostasis under stress conditions.

The knowledge of plant stress adaptation we expect to obtain will be useful in pinpointing potential candidate genes for innovative biotechnology approaches to optimize crop performance in changing environmental field conditions via manipulation of photosynthesis and morphological processes, which are the most relevant traits in plant breeding programmes. Thus, the final goal of our group is transfer of knowledge between basic research, applied science and society.