Mining natural genetic variation of combinatorial stress responses of Arabidopsis to identify new tolerance pathways for biotic and drought stress

Plants are exposed to various biotic and abiotic stresses under natural conditions, which results in many negative effects on plant growth and development. Biotic and abiotic stresses are the most limiting factors that cause heavy crop yield losses in agriculture production.

Biotic stress is induced by pathogens and herbivores. In my research I use Botrytis cinerea (B.cinerea) which is a necrotrophic pathogen that can attack more than 200 crops; and Pieris rapae (P.rapea) which is a tissue-chewing caterpillar of the cabbage white butterfly and is a specialist on cruciferous plant species. Abiotic stress includes drought stress as a major stress problem among several abiotic stresses. It can impair plant physiological functions such as inhibiting photosynthesis; disturbing plant hormone synthesis and distribution; and, reducing crop biomass and annual yield. This project uses 360 different and genetically well-characterized Arabidopsis thaliana (A. thaliana) accessions as plant material to provide an opportunity to explore the natural variation in A. thaliana to B.cinerea, P.rapea and drought combinatorial stress. Genome Wide Association (GWA) mapping is applied in this project as a powerful tool to identify new tolerance pathways. Statistical test programmes such as EMMAX, together with 250K Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) as marker, provide powerful opportunities for identifying new molecular pathway and candidate genes that involved in combinatorial stress responses. Studying the key mechanisms of stress responses in A. thaliana can contribute to improving crop breeding by understanding the similar mechanisms in crops.

Advisors: Dr. Mark Aarts, Prof.dr. Maarten Koornneef


Student who has interests in this topic please do not hesitate to contact me.


Gady A, Vriezen W, Van de Wal M, Huang P, Bovy A, Visser R, Bachem C (2011) Induced point mutations in the phytoene synthase 1 gene cause differences in carotenoid content during tomato fruit ripening. Molecular Breeding: 1-12.

Education Background

  • 2011-present: PhD student at Plant Genetics, Plant Science, Wageningen UR, NL.
  • 2008-2010: MSc in plant science, specialization in Plant Breeding, Wageningen UR, NL.
  • 2006-2008: Bachelor in International Horticulture and Marking, van Hall Larenstein, NL.
  • 2005-2006: Plant Biotechnology, Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen, NL.
  • 2003-2005: Biotechnology, China Agriculture University, P.R.China.

Professional experiences

  • 10.2010-02.2011: Technician at Plant breeding Laboratory, Wageningen UR. Topic: Genetic analysis of potato tuber specific motifs
  • 03.2010-07.2010: Master thesis at Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, USA. Topic: Fine-mapping of Beta-carotene in tomato fruits
  • 05.2009-01.2010: Master thesis at Plant Breeding Laboratory, Wageningen UR. Topic: Sucrose Synthase2 SNPs Identification by TILLING technique of EMS treated tomatoes
  • 02.2008-08.2008: Bachelor thesis at Plant Research International, Wageningen UR. Topic: Hyperhydiricity Induction and Prevention on Apple and Arabidopsis
  • 04.2007-11.2007: Bachelor internship at Plant Research International, Wageningen UR. Topic: Apical dormancy in Alstroemeria and drought stress on Arabidopsis, in vitro