Plants deal with multiple stresses such as drought and heat; all while being infected by microbes and colonized by insects. However, plants react and adapt to these challenges by synthesizing specialized (aka secondary) metabolites. Since the environment around plants is constantly changing, there is tremendous diversity in specialized metabolites to meet different ecological functions, including defence against insect pests and to drought. To understand the role of plant metabolites as a response to environmental challenges we are using two model systems: bread wheat and tomato. The importance of cuticular waxes in protecting wheat against drought is well-recognized, yet, the mechanisms controlling their accumulation have not been incorporated in breeding programs. We are addressing this gap in Canadian Spring Wheat cultivars, by characterizing a historical collection of breeding lines that go back to 1842.
Recent Research Project- Response of Bread Wheat Cultivar AAC Tradition to Drought Stress
This project investigated the role of specialized metabolites against insect herbivores by using tomato and its wild relatives. The above photo displays the findings of this study. From the left to rights, 1) this was the control plant which was well-watered, 2) this plant was drought-stressed for three weeks, and 3) this plant was drought-stressed for 7 weeks. This study determined that the defensive role of terpenes and phenolics has been well established in this species and that there are characterized mutants available. The EGV Lab is building up on this knowledge by asking if the bacterial communities inside the gut of insect herbivores are being impacted by specialized metabolites present in the plant host.
1. Kuruparan A (presenter), Soolanayakanahally R, Gonzales-Vigil E (2022) Assessing the cuticular wax responses of a historical collection of Canadian bread wheat cultivars (Triticum aestivum L.) to drought stress. 2nd International Wheat Congress. September 11th-14th. (poster presentation)
2. Bosorogan A (presenter) and Gonzales-Vigil E (2022) Specialized metabolites from tomato and Arabidopsis impact the Trichoplusia ni gut microbiome. 13th Canadian Association for Plant Biotechnology Conference. August 21st-24th. Quebec City. (oral presentation)
3. Kuruparan A (presenter), Soolanayakanahally R, Gonzales-Vigil E (2022) Assessing flag leaf cuticular wax responses to heat and drought stress in a Canadian bread wheat cultivar (Triticum aestivum L.) 13th Canadian Association for Plant Biotechnology Conference. August 21st-24th. Quebec City. (oral presentation)