PRIN 2017 - 2017JLN833 - Francesco Loreto_Plant multitROphic interactions for bioinspired Strategies of PEst ConTrol (PROSPECT) (DBA.AD001.348)
Project areaIntensificazione sostenibile delle produzioni agroalimentari e forestali (DBA.AD001)
Structure responsible for the research project
Other structures collaborating in the research project
Organisms living in natural and agricultural ecosystems build complex networks of multitrophic interactions, reciprocally influencing their own growth and survival in continuous co-evolutionary arms-races, driven by sequential development of attack strategies and defense barriers. How these interactions work is largely unknown. However, groundwork shows that soil microbiota exerts a series of beneficial effects on plants that go beyond the simple plant growth promotion, and affect additional trophic levels, possibly activating plant defense barriers, both direct (i.e. acting directly on the pest) and indirect (e.g. enhancing the impact of pests' natural antagonists), through the induction of specific biosynthetic pathways. PROSPECT will use as experimental model system tomato plants, a widely grown crop species of remarkable economic importance for agriculture in Italy and worldwide, and for which genome sequence, molecular tools and broad mechanistic knowledge are available. Using an "organismal"-oriented approach with three dedicated workpackages, the project objective is to unravel the functional and metabolic bases underlying the network of trophic.
The general objective of the project is to: UNRAVEL THE FUNCTIONAL AND METABOLIC BASES UNDERLYING THE COMPLEX NETWORK OF TROPHIC INTERACTIONS AMONG
MICROBES-PLANTS-PESTS AND PESTS' NATURAL ANTAGONISTS, TO DEVELOP BIOINSPIRED TECHNOLOGIES FOR CROP PROTECTION.
The project is broken down into workpackages (WPs) focusing on the "organisms" involved in the interactions: WP1) The soil beneficial microbiota (BM); WP2) The plant; WP3) The pests and their natural
antagonists. First, observations at phenotypic and behavioral level will be used to select BM-induced plant changes that result in the activation of defense barriers. Second, positive interactions will be
investigated at physiological and molecular level, aiming to unravel the underlying functional bases of induced plant protection and possible feedbacks on the associated organisms. We focus on tomato
plants (Solanum lycopersicum) as experimental model system (WP2) and will study a community of organisms (BM and pests, in WP1 and WP3, respectively) interacting with this crop of wide importance for
agriculture and human nutrition. Novel information will be used to develop new bio-inspired tools and strategies for plant protection.
Start date of activity
Agricultural and forestry entomology, plant pathology, plant physiology
Last update: 08/02/2023