Two MiCRop tenure trackers have received a Vidi grant from NWO. The financing is a maximum of 800,000 euros per project. This will enable the laureates to develop an innovative line of research over the next five years and to further expand their own research group. This round concerns awards in the science domains of Exact and Natural Sciences (ENW), Technical and Applied Sciences (AES) and Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), and Care Research and Medical Sciences (ZonMw). In total, NWO received 551 applications, of which 97 were awarded.
Decoding a Hybrid Language Between the Plant and Microbe Kingdoms (DECODE)
Dr. L.M. Dong, University of Amsterdam
Organisms communicate with their environment through complex signal networks using chemistry as a language. In this project I will DECODE a hybrid chemical language that is jointly created by plants and the microbes around their roots, but has been hijacked by parasitic nematodes. I am going to elucidate how this language is formed, who listens to it and what is the benefit of it. I expect to discover an entirely new, important and evolutionarily conserved signaling molecule involved in the plant's interaction with beneficial microbes and nematodes.
Rapid defense strategies of plants against aphids
Dr. K.J. Kloth, Wageningen University & Research centre
Aphids are stinging-sucking insects that are a major problem in pepper cultivation. In this study, the activity of plant genes is examined at the cellular level as soon as an aphid stings a plant. In a wild counterpart of peppers, we can unravel how the natural defense against aphids works and which genes can be crossed into pepper plants to make them more resistant. We are also investigating how microbial additions to the roots activate these genes more quickly. With this, stronger pepper plants and effective cultivation methods can be developed as an alternative to chemical pesticides.