Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences

Research lines dr. R.C. (Rob) Schuurink

Plant volatile signalling

In this research line we aim to unravel the (signalling) role of volatiles in and outside the plant in three topics.

Topic 1 - The role of C6 volatiles as signalling and priming molecules

These C6 volatiles are produced in most, if not all, plants upon wounding, pathogen infection and insect herbivory and can prime the defense of neighboring plants. We have identified the first Arabidopsis mutants that are resistant to E-2-hexenal (her mutants) and have mapped the her1 mutation to discover a role for GABA in this process as well as in the defense against Pseudomonas. We also mapped and cloned the her2 mutant and determined that several WRKY transcription factors may regulate the E-2-hexenal response in Arabidopsis.

Topic 2 - The biosynthesis of volatile benzenoids in Petunia and the regulation thereof

We have discovered, through a targeted metabolomics and transcriptomics approach, ODORANT1, the first transcription factor that regulates volatile benzenoid synthesis and provided insight in how Petunia flowers developmentally separate color and scent biosynthesis; we have recently discovered a transcription factor upstream of ODO1. Moreover, we identified a 3-keto-acylthiolase that catalyzes an important step in benzoic acid biosynthesis, a crucial precursor for several benzenoids.

Topic 3 - The role of volatile terpenoids in tomato-insect interactions

We have established a role for jasmonate (JA) in the production of volatile terpenoids in tomato upon herbivory and discovered that JA induces the expression of salicylic acid (SA) methyl transferase that converts SA to the volatile methyl salicylate, an volatile crucial in attracting predatory mites as recently shown by silencing SAMT in tomato. We have also identified and characterized the first monoterpene synthases from tomato that are specifically expressed and induced by JA in trichomes. Recently we identified the terpenoids that are directly involved in repelling or attracting whiteflies. Through 454 and GS-flex sequencing of trichome cDNAs of wild tomatoes we identified the corresponding terpenoid synthases. We are currently modifying cultivated tomato plants to produce the relevant terpenoids using trichome specific promoters. With yeast-1-hybrid we have identified a transcription factor that specifically can upregulate certain terpene synthases in the glandular trichomes of tomato.

4 March 2013