MIE celebrates Plant Health, featuring Dimitra Papantoniou
The year 2020 is the United Nations' International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). Every month, one of our team members introduces his or her interest in plant health. March 2020 is the month of Dimitra Papantoniou:
“My name is Dimitra Papantoniou. I am from Greece, and hold an MSc in Horticultural Biotechnology. My PhD research in MIE at iDiv focuses on plant-microbe-herbivore interactions. I am interested to discover the sophisticated ways plants evolved to defend themselves against herbivores and pathogens. I am also fascinated by the underlying plant chemistry and molecular biology. For my PhD, I study how beneficial microbes, such as arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and Trichoderma harzianum, enhance tomato resistance to caterpillars. Plant under herbivore attack emit a blend of volatiles to attract insect predators. In this context, I also observe how beneficial microbes could affect the attraction of predators, like Macrolophus pygmaeus. I am part of the International Training Network MiRA funded by the EU. I collaborate with colleagues at universities, institutes and companies around Europe. With my research, I hope to show that beneficial microbes can enhance plant defense against herbivores, and that they offer a reliable alternative to the use of insecticides.