MIE celebrates Plant Health, featuring Axel Touw
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. July 2020 is the month of Axel Touw.
“My name is Axel Touw from the Netherlands. I am a doctoral researcher in the Molecular Interaction Ecology group at the German Centre of integrative Biodiversity (iDiv) in Leipzig, where I study how brassicaceous plants such as mustard, oil-seed rape and broccoli optimize the production and distribution of chemical defenses against insect herbivores, root-knot nematodes and pathogens. To defend themselves against attackers, brassicaceous plants rely largely on the activity of glucosinolates, a class of compounds characteristic for this plant family. The production of these compounds is costly, and to make efficient use of their limited resources plants allocate glucosinolates to those plant parts where defense is needed the most. By performing greenhouse experiments and a combination of chemical and molecular analytical techniques, I am studying the processes involved in glucosinolate distribution over the plant during ecological interactions. The outcome of my research will improve our basic understanding of how plants deploy chemical defenses in the most efficient way possible. This knowledge can help breeders to improve our crops and help farmers to keep growing healthy plants in an ever-changing environment.”