We aim to decipher
the most intriguing type of communication between plants and insects
Human Frontiers Science Program supports research on plant-pollinator interactions with the participation of the University of Torino, I2SysBio and University of Technology Sydney.
Photo by Raymond J. C. Cannon
‘Good Vibes’ aims at dissecting the molecular and physiological mechanisms of plant responses to distinct vibroacoustic signals (VAs) emitted by approaching insects, using Antirrhinum (snapdragon) as a model. Since Antirrhinum flower visitors have unequal efficiency as pollinators and emit characteristic VAs, it is supposed that plants are able to recognise effective pollinators by sensing their specific VA signatures.
We postulate that VA-elicited snapdragon responses affect pollinator behaviours, with effects on pollen transfer, and consequently in plant reproductive fitness. Specifically, the project addresses the following fundamental questions:
The project will involve three units: Insect-Behaviour Unit led by Francesca Barbero (University of Turin, Italy), Engineering-Modelling Unit led by Sebastian Oberst (University of Technology Sydney, Australia), and Plant-Physiology Unit led by José Tomás Matus (Institute of Integrative Systems Biology, UV-CSIC).
»Not only the ultimate functions of VAs in plant biology are poorly understood, but there is a gap in the knowledge also in the proximate mechanisms of VAs production, perception, transduction and transmission.»
The team will characterise the molecular and physiological mechanisms of plant responses to distinct VAs emitted by flower visitors, by assessing differences in plant sensitivity, perception thresholds and detection of frequency ranges or temporal components. Flower-shape and receptor-sensing/signal-transduction related genes will be edited by CRISPR-Cas and tested to analyze VA-sensing processes and structural features potentially evolved to enhance plant VA transmission.
Good Vibes state of the art.
Our project is based on the following premises