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Last update: May 2021

Menu Institutions

SPS - Saclay Plant Sciences

STRESSNET

ANR (French Research National Agency) "Young Investigators" call for projects (JCJC call)

Next generation genetics to identify regulatory networks involved in the response to abiotic stresses (simple and combined) in Arabidopsis

José Jiménez-Gómez (INRA)
Team «Variation and Abiotic Stress Tolerance » (Olivier Loudet)
Institut Jean-Pierre Bourgin (IJPB)

Drought episodes are expected to increase in frequency and severity as a result of global warming.  Simultaneously, there is a strong pressure to decrease the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers due to their toxicity for the environment and for humans. The combination of water and nitrogen deficit has disastrous outcomes: as the soil dries out the pore space fills with air, making nutrients even less available to the plant. STRESSNET aims to dissect the molecular mechanisms underlying plant responses to water deficit, nitrogen deficit and to both stresses combined.

This is a hard task because recent metabolomic, transcriptomic or proteomic studies have shown the existence of a two-tier mechanism in which multiple transcriptional pathways integrate environmental signals and elicit changes in a higher set of proteins and metabolic networks that determine the plant’s physiological response. Interestingly, the molecular networks activated in response to a combination of two stresses can be hardly predicted from the responses elicited by the individual stresses separately. The complexity of these systems is the reason why stress plasticity remains one of the worst understood signaling processes.

Systems biology approaches may be the only chance to dissect these complex biological networks. In the STRESSNET project, a series of genetic, genomic and bioinformatic protocols will be integrated to reconstruct the molecular networks underlying plant responses to single and combined stresses. This will be done in Arabidopsis thaliana: the only plant where these types of holistic approaches can be implemented at full power thanks to the large amounts of publically available genomic, molecular and genetic tools.

In short, STRESSNET proposes to use a robotic facility  that applies stresses with high precision and reproducibility to acquire transcriptomic and metabolomic datasets in multiple Arabidopsis accessions and their hybrids. The innovative experimental design and analysis pipelines described in the project will allow the team to detect eQTL using allele-specific expression in F1 hybrids and to reconstruct and compare regulatory networks activated under stress. The next step will be to perform metabolic profiling of one full segregating population under various stress conditions. This will make it possible to link variation in expression with variation in metabolite abundance, and to identify the molecules that have been selected through evolution to modify stress responses without compromising fitness. Unveiling the identity of these molecules, even when found in an undomesticated species, is of great interest for agriculture, where the goal is to obtain stress resistant lines without affecting production.