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Eric Schmelz

Date & Location: February 22, 2021, at 4p; Virtual visit

Subject: Mechanisms for plant recognition of animals: a case for reasonable receptor-ligand candidates in legumes

Host: Emily Roggenkamp

About the Speaker

University: University of California San Diego

Research Interests: Plants, arthropods and microbes are the most species rich life forms on earth. As primary producers, photosynthetic organisms are the ultimate source of most fixed carbon and under significant pressure to relinquish these resources. For reproductive success, plants must balance both growth and defense against a myriad of herbivorous arthropods and pathogens. These real-time interactions are of relevance to our global food supply and are underpinned by genetics, biochemistry, physiology, and behavior.

The Schmelz group utilize maize (Zea mays) and bean ( Phaseolus & Vigna spp.) to examine dynamic inducible innate immune responses that limit losses against attacking organisms. In response to herbivory by generalist lepidopteran pests, plants rapidly initiate the biosynthesis and release of low molecular weight Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Prominent in this VOC signature are monoterpenes, homoterpenes and sesquiterpenes that serve as indirect plant defenses by enabling the attraction of predators, parasitioids, and other natural enemies. How is this process enabled? The group examines the mechanistic role of exogenous elicitors, termed Herbivore Associated Molecular Patterns (HAMPs), and endogenous signal transduction cascades that regulate insect-induced plant responses.