Proyecto de máster en Francia estudiando simbiontes guerreros vegetales ~

20 de noviembre de 2020

Proyecto de máster en Francia estudiando simbiontes guerreros vegetales

Advisor: Enric Frago (CIRAD-CBGP) – Ideal period: March-August 2021

Host lab: Centre for Biology and Management of Populations (CBGP), Montpellier

Plants are sessile organisms that can not avoid herbivores by running away, but they can defend themselves using a very elaborate immune system. Upon insect attack plants are able to form defensive morphological structures, to accumulate toxic compounds in their leaves, or to emit defensive volatiles. Scientists are increasingly aware that these defences can be stimulated by plant microbial symbionts. These symbionts often colonize plant roots and mostly include bacteria and fungi like plant-growth promoting rhizobacteria, plant-growth promoting fungi, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. These symbionts have been shown to help plants mount a quicker and stronger anti-herbivore response in plants.

In this project we will perform laboratory experiments to study the role of a mycorrhizal fungi in tomato, and their impact on whiteflies and on whitefly parasitoid wasps (an important group of whitefly natural enemies). Although mycorrhizal mediation of insect-plant interactions is known in some systems, cascading effects on parasitoid wasps are little explored. In addition, most studies are performed during a single insect generation (i.e. short-term), and we aim here at exploring mycorrhizal effects over multiple insect generations (i.e. long-term). To achieve this, we will use population cages to study the dynamics of whiteflies and their parasitoid wasps in plants with or without mycorrhizal fungi.

The project will take place in the Centre for Biology and Management of Populations (CBGP) in Montpellier under the supervision of Enric Frago, who is researcher at Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD). This M2 project is funded by the French Research Agency (ANR) and is part of a larger project called INTOMED (Innovative tools to combat crop pests in the Mediterranean). The INTOMED project involves a total of 5 countries around the Mediterranean region (Greece, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and France). The overall objective of INTOMED is to identify, develop, validate and promote effective and sustainable Integrated Pest Management (IPM) tools by (a) exploiting beneficial interactions between plants and soil-borne microbes and (b) identifying naturally derived key molecules (peptides, metabolites and RNAs) to enhance the resistance of economically important Mediterranean crops against major agricultural arthropod pests and pathogens, as well as by (c) assessing the social acceptability of the proposed tools by end-users.

We are looking for a M2 student for the period of March to August 2020. The ideal candidate will have some experience with insects, a strong interest in insect-plant interactions and good capacities in statistics. Knowledge of basic microbiology techniques will be a plus. The candidate should be able to perform independent research and to write in a clear and concise way his/her M2 rapport. If interested please send your CV and a short email of motivation to: You can check Enric’s personal webpage here:

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