MIE celebrates Plant Health, featuring Jessil Ann Pajar
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. October 2020 is the month of Jessil Ann Pajar.
“I am Jessil Ann Pajar from the Philippines. I grew up in a tropical rural region where all shades of green, from grass fields and rice paddies to towering coconuts and lush forest canopies can be seen. At a young age, I got curious as to how plants live and thrive alongside other organisms surrounding them. Following my childhood fascination, I became interested in organismic interactions, especially those of plants and their respective pests and pathogens.
I am now doing my PhD funded by the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology (MPI-CE) in Jena and at the Molecular Interactions Ecology research group at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity (iDiv) in Leipzig. My research project focuses on the signalling interactions between above- and belowground herbivores that feed on the same host plant, specifically that of aphid-nematode interactions on black mustard (Brassica nigra) plants as the common host. Along with high-throughput molecular and chemical procedures and the EPG (electrical penetration graph) technique, we will analyse sieve element sap taken directly from the aphid’s stylet while it is feeding on the plant [How cool is that?]. By doing so I aim to identify the molecular and chemical mechanisms that initiate changes in aphid preference and performance on nematode-infested B. nigra. This may enable us to enhance plants’ fightback strategy against devastating pests and address specific concerns in crop protection and plant health.”