Project: The PERKs of being resistant - On the exploitation of a novel source of nematode resistance in vegetable crops

Parasitic nematodes are a serious threat to global food security. Because of serious environmental and health concerns, most pesticides to control nematodes face a global ban.

Moreover, rising soil temperatures due to global warming result in a rapid expansion world-wide of areas infested with plant parasitic nematodes, especially root-knot nematodes. The growth of resistant cultivars is in principle an attractive alternative for pesticides, but current resistance genes are not very effective. The objective of my VENI project is to investigate if a group of surface-localized receptors, called the PERKs, function as damage detectors that can be used to breed broad-spectrum resistance in vegetable crops. I will use Arabidopsis as a model plant and tomato as the target crop to study the relevance of PERK receptors for nematode resistance. The aim of this  project is to identify novel traits for breeding resistant crops.