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Research area: Plants cannot run away! Instead, over millions of years of evolution, they have 'developed' smart strategies to quickly respond and adapt to sudden environmental changes. The 'stress' plants usually encounters can be divided into biotic- (i.e. pathogens, herbivores) and abiotic stress (i.e. pollutants, cold, heat, salinity, oxidative stress, drought). Our main focus is to study the role that signaling molecules play in response to pollutants- (O3) and water stress, and during plant-pathogen interactions. Signalling networks involve reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as hydrogen peroxide, superoxide, singlet oxygen and hydroxyl radical and hormonal molecules such as abscisic acid, ethylene, nitric oxide and jasmonic acid. These signaling molecules are produced by plant cells in a variety of situations and they represent a common link between nearly all biotic and abiotic stresses including ozone and pathogens. Modern genomics- and system biology approaches are used to study these questions.

Main Research Topics

- Hormones and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emission in plants challenged with biotic (herbivore) and abiotic stress (drought stress) (in collaboration with IPP-CNR)

- Ethylenediurea (EDU) a protective compound of plants from ambient ozone: a study of persistence and localization of EDU in planta (in collaboration with Gabriele Cruciani group)

- About the role of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) and nitric oxide signaling molecules on pollen tube elongation of Cupressus arizonica pollen (in collaboration with University of Siena)

- Atmospheric pollutants and effect on Cupressus pollen allergenicity

- Analysis of pungency of different pepper cultivar through the quantification of the alkaloids capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin (in collaboration with Centro Appenninico del Terminillo Carlo Jucci)


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