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Plant Biotechnology Laboratory

Lab Biotec Veg - Immagine

Referent: Prof. Anca Macovei

Co-workers: Conrado Jr. Dueñas (post-doc), Adriano Griffo (PhD student), Sri Amarnadh Gupta Tondepu (PhD student), Hisham Wazeer (PhD student), Nicola Bosco (PhD student)

Research topics:

  • DDR (DNA Damage Response) in the response of plants to genotoxic stress. DDR mechanisms specifically aimed at helping plants cope with the damaging effects of genotoxic stress. DDR is defined as a signal transduction pathway that detects DNA damage signals and transduces them to perform cellular responses (DNA repair, cell cycle arrest, programmed cell death, endoreduplication). Reactive oxygen species (ROS) act both as signal molecules and as harmful molecules, depending on their concentration and cellular localization. Links between ROS and DDR are hypothesized but not fully explained. In this topic we purpose to characterize at the molecular level of genes involved in DDR useful for defining the profiles of resistance to genotoxic stress in plants.
  • MicroRNAs: role in DDR and cross-kingdom transfer. A basic aspect of transcription regulation processes concerns the activity of microRNAs. MicroRNAs contribute to the modulation of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level by inducing translation repression or gene silencing. A line of research is active which aims to investigate the role of miRNAs in the plant response to genotoxic stresses and in the context of DNA repair mechanisms. We are investigating the possible involvement of miRNAs in the regulation of cross-kingdom processes through bioinformatics approaches.
  • Development of non-invasive methods for semen quality. An early, reliable and non-invasive assessment of seed quality is a valuable tool for optimizing seed production and safety checks, with practical and economic benefits. Currently, standard tests approved by the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA), such as germination tests, allow you to observe the behavior of seeds in the post-sowing phase. These procedures present problems with the direct use of seeds for testing and the time it takes to obtain relevant information. Despite its practicality, the use of a single test does not allow the analysis of multiple factors that can directly contribute to the quality of the semen or be indirectly predictive for its evaluation, so the information obtained is inevitably partial. In this case, we propose biochemical tests (detection of ROS molecules) and tools (biosensors) to evaluate the quality of the seeds in a non-invasive way, together with treatments to increase their quality (e.g. seed priming).

Plant systems used in these works include legumes (Medicago truncatula, M. sativa, Glycine max), cereals (Oryza sativa, Zea mays, Triticum aestivum), horticultural species (Solanum lycopersicum, S. melongena, Lattuca sativa) and model plants (Petunia hybrida, Arabidopsis thaliana)

The main methodological approaches include: bioinformatics analysis (use of specific tools and database), PCR, RT-PCR, qRT-PCR (genes, miRNA), Comet assay, Diffusion assay, ROS detection assays (FOX, DCFH-DA, DAB, NBT), microscopy (optical, fluorescent, TEM), given 'omics' analysis (use of specific tools and database), germination tests.

National collaborations:

  • M. Biggiogera (piattaforma di microscopia elettronica, UNIPV-DBB)
  • E. Doria (biochimica vegetale, UNIPV-DBB)
  • C. Calvio (genetica dei microorganismi, UNIPV-DBB)
  • O. Savino (genetica delle popolazioni, UNIPV-DBB)
  • L. Pasotti (Modellistica Matematica e Biologia Sintetica, DIII)
  • M. Conti (Laboratorio di Meccanica Computazionale e Materiali Avanzati, DICAR)
  • D. Dondi (Lab. Chimica delle Radiazioni/Spettroscopia EPR, Dip. Chimica)
  • A. Mondoni, G. Rossi (DSTA), P. Leonetti (IPSP-CNR, Bari)
  • A. Moschetta (Università degli Studi di Bari)
  • V. Locato (Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma).

International collaborations:

  • S. Araújo (ITQB, BCL3, Portogallo)
  • C. Dobrota (UBB, Romania)
  • C. Reynaud (IPS2, France)
  • N. Tuteja (ICGEB, India)
  • S.S. Gill (Center of Biotechnology MD University-Rohtak, India)
  • Vishal Pandey (Varanasi University, India)
  • Lata Shukla (Pondicherry University, India)
  • I. Slamet-Loedin (IRRI, Filippine)
  • J. Ray (Diliman University, Filippine)
  • V. Manova (Institute of Plant Physiology and Genetics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences)
  • F. Hay (Aarhus University, Denmark).