Insect egg-killing plants

NWO/TTW Vidi project on pest-killing plants

cropped-Bacteria-on-Pieris-egg.jpgIn this NWO/TTW VIDI-project, we aimed to unravel the genetic basis of egg-killing HR triggered by pest insects in economically important cabbage crops. Using Brassica rapa (Turnip rape/Chinese cabbage), for which there is extensive genomic data and genetic resources, we will screen diverse genotypes for egg-killing HR and determine genomic variation therein. Such regions are essential for marker-assisted breeding strategies. Furthermore, we aimed to characterize the egg-derived molecule that activates egg-killing HR (i.e. elicitor). Together with PhD student Niccolo Bassetti, former postdoc and collaborator Lotte Caarls (Plant Breeding, WUR) and technician Patrick Verbaarschot, we tried to understand the molecular and genetic mechanism of this trait. The project was executed in close collaboration with vegetable breeding and seed companies as well as researchers at Wageningen University, national and international institutes with expertise in population genetics, plant and insect (phylo)genomics, plant breeding and bioinformatics. Currently, I am writing on follow-up project proposals on the evolutionary genomics of this trait.

Whiteboard animation on how plants kill butterfly eggs and avoid being eaten