Parasitic plants are a global threat in agriculture as they cause a substantial loss of yield in many commercial crops. The parasite Phelipanche ramosa for example threatens winter oilseed rape production in France but is also present in other European countries and is likely to become a problem for Belgium farmers. An essential step in the lifecycle of parasitic plants is their germination, which is activated upon sensing the presence of a potential host-plant. One of these signals are the strigolactones.
In this project, we aim at providing insights into how strigolactones can induce germination by using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana in which the parasitic receptor of strigolactones is expressed, making Arabidopsis mimic the parasite in its seed germination. Through this, we will obtain a dynamic view on which proteins belong to the strigolactone signaling complex and will contribute to insights into how the perception of the signal causes the activation of seed germination. In this regard, proteomic approaches will be complemented with in-depth assessment of histone modifications as a mechanism that links strigolactone signalling and transcriptional control on its primary target genes, which are in turn influencing germination.
As such, we will obtain detailed knowledge about how strigolactones activate seed germination. This knowledge can then be used in order to identify new protein targets for the development of selective herbicides against parasitic weeds.