Division of Biotechnology and Plant Health

PROTECT: Priming for Resistance Of Trees and its Effects on microbial CommuniTies

Active Last updated: 16.10.2021
End: sep 2025
Start: oct 2021

To protect themselves from pests and pathogens, plants have evolved multi-layered resistance mechanisms that include both constitutive and inducible defenses. These defense mechanisms are not static, but are adaptive to environmental changes.

Status Active
Start - end date 01.10.2021 - 30.09.2025
Project manager Melissa Magerøy
Division Division of Biotechnology and Plant Health
Department Molecular Plant Biology
Total budget 12000000
Funding source Forskningsrådet (Research Council of Norway)

Sensitizing of inducible defenses is an important adaptation that allows an organism to activate its defenses more quickly upon detecting a threat. In plants, this sensitization is called defense priming and is similar to immunological memory in animals. Epigenetic modifications is an important mechanism by which defense priming occurs. Plants also rely on beneficial microorganism to improve their stress tolerance and pathogen resistance. These symbiotic relationships both affect and can be affected by epigenetic changes to the plant genome.

In this project, we seek to better understand how defense priming of Norway spruce affects the establishment of beneficial microbial communities, and how these communities in turn affect spruce resistance to pests and pathogens. We will identify novel spruce priming chemicals that increase spruce resistance with minimal secondary effects, such as growth inhibition. We will also determine the effects of spruce defense priming on its microbiota diversity and the effects of microbiota diversity on spruce defense priming and resistance. Additionally, we will determine the effects of both defense priming and microbiota on the spruce epigenome, hormone signaling pathways, the accumulation of defensive molecules, and defense gene expression.

Knowledge gained from this project will deepen our understanding of the spruce holobiont (spruce and its microbiota) and help us to better assess the ecological implication of Norway spruce defense priming. Such knowledge is crucial if we are to utilize defense priming as an effective pest management strategy in forestry.