Plant protection


Phytopathology

Phytopathology

Maintaining the health of cultivated plants is an enormous societal challenge for agriculture and horticulture. In addition to the qualitative and quantitative assurance of food, feed and raw materials for industrial processing, climate and environmental protection issues are of increasing importance.

We are working on fundamental questions on the potential of inter- and cover cropping and on alternative substrates, such as compost or biochar, for the reduction/elimination of fungal plant pathogens. We also investigate the function of root exudates in plant-pathogen interactions using model systems, such as Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici and tomato or Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and soybeans. Over the long term our research should provide novel solutions for the sustainable control of plant diseases.

In addition, we work on solutions for current plant protection problems in organic and integrated produced arable crops, vegetables, fruit crops, wine and ornamental plants.

Contact: Univ.Prof. DI Dr. Siegrid Steinkellner

Further information: www.dnw.boku.ac.at/en/ps/

Molecular Phytopathology

Molecular Phytopathology

Sedentary plant-parasitic nematodes induce feeding sites which are called syncytia in the roots of host plants. We study this interaction in the model system Arabidopsis thaliana and the beet cyst nematode Heterodera schachtii. We use Genechips to analyse the transcriptomes of syncytia in order to understand the interaction between plants and nematodes. Genes that are strongly up-regulated or down-regulated in syncytia are interesting targets to genetically engineer resistance against nematodes. The second area of research are antimicrobial peptides. We study so far uncharacterised peptides from plants. We are establishing expression systems that would enable us to produce antimicrobial peptides for in vitro activity studies with target bacteria and fungi. This could identify peptides for which only the DNA sequence is known for use in plant protection or in human or veterinary medicine.

Contact: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Holger Bohlmann

Further information: www.dnw.boku.ac.at/ps/

Nematology

Nematology

Plant-parasitic nematodes became a big problem in the modern agriculture, since billions of EUR are lost world wide due to their destructive behavior. The main obstacle in control of these root parasites is the long-term endurance of the cysts in the soil and their resistance to highly toxic nematicides. Thus, the number of available techniques against nematode parasitism is limited and development of new strategies is urgently required. The nematology group deals with specific nematode feeding structures in roots of host plant, especially with their induction and maintenance. These processes are studied with different physiological and molecular biological methods. This new knowledge greatly contributes to better understanding the plant-nematode interaction and might be of great significance for plant breeders who produce new tolerant or resistant plant cultivars.

Contact: Dr. Krzysztof Wieczorek

Further information: www.dnw.boku.ac.at/en/ps/

Beneficial plant-microbe interactions in plant pathology

Beneficial plant-microbe interactions in plant pathology

Plant pathogens are responsible for serious yield losses in crop production worldwide. Stricter law on the use and registration of chemical plant protection products and the increased demand of consumers for organic food require new sustainable protection strategies. To develop such new strategies, crop plants and their miscellaneous interactions with pathogenic, symbiotic and antagonistic microorganisms are studied in a multidisciplinary approach involving in-vitro assays as well as applied experiments.

The current focus is on the interactions of crop plants with arbuscular mycorrhiza and endophytic fungi from the order Sebacinales and the effects of these interactions on the development of soil-borne pathogens.

Contact: Dr. Karin Hage-Ahmed

Further information: www.dnw.boku.ac.at/en/ps/