Nerea Perez Andres
During my project at Molecular Interaction Ecology, I will study the chemical ecology of the bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) together with Dr. Fredd Vergara. S. dulcamara produces different steroidal glycoalkaloids. The number of steroidal glycoalkaloids and their relative concentrations, i.e. the specific chemical profile, differs depending on the organ under study and the plant ontogeny. Recent results produced at iDiv show that there is a genetic component in the chemical profiles of S. dulcamara shoots depending on the different regions of the Netherlands were plants were collected. More relevant from the viewpoint of chemical ecology is the fact that the different shoot chemical profiles are associated with different herbivore guilds feeding on S. dulcamara in its natural habitat (some chemical profile are preferred by beetles while others are preferred by slugs).
In order to obtain a complete view of the chemical ecology of S. dulcamara we are now studying the chemical profiles of its roots and root exudates. The goal is to integrate the chemical profiles of above- and belowground tissues of different S. dulcamara provenances. This comparison will enable us to identify (i) any genetic component in the chemical composition of the entire plant, (ii) possible mechanisms of steroidal glycoalkaloids biosynthesis and inter-organ transport and, ultimately, (iii) the possible role of the belowground chemical profiles in the regulation of ecological interactions.
To accomplish this objective we are following a multi-step approach analyzing different types of samples with liquid chromatography coupled to quadrupole/time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Aiming to obtain “true” root exudates we rely on rhizonboxes: growth chambers specifically designed to prevent tissue damage. These rhizonboxes allow us to collect exudates under realistic conditions while minimizing root manipulation. The results obtained from these experiments will provide us with a deep insight into the organic chemistry of the rhizosphere (the root and the space surrounding it) of S. dulcamara and the genetics and evolution of root exudate chemistry.
Deutscher Platz 5e