Andrea Paola Zuluaga Cruz

Andrea Paola Zuluaga Cruz

AgreenSkills session, year: 2nd session, 2015

Receiving laboratory: BGPI Biology and genetics of plant-pathogen interactions, Montpellier

Country of origin : Spain




Mobility project

What are the molecular functions controlled by the rice ZBED protein triggering drought tolerance and disease resistance?

The objective of my project is to understand the molecular mechanisms by which the rice protein ZBED confers resistance to both biotic and abiotic stresses. ZBED is a zinc finger-DNA binding protein that when is overexpressed in rice the plants become more resistant to drought and the blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. Most biological disease resistance pathways identified so far are not efficient under abiotic stress due to negative cross-talks between biotic and abiotic resistance.Thus, I am using a multidisciplinary approach, which includes the use of molecular tools, cytology and bioinformatics to elucidate the mechanism by which ZBED controls these two different pathways.
Our preliminary results show that ZBED is translocated to the nucleus when expressed in the heterologous system Nicotiana benthamiana. Additionally, we were able to demonstrate that ZBED binds DNA and its DNA-binding ability depends on its zinc-fingers. ZBED not only binds DNA in N. benthamiana, but it also causes the induction of PAMP-triggered immunity (PTI) and cell death (Hypersensitive Response). Taking these preliminary results together, show that ZBED plays an important role in plant immunity.
The long term goal of this project is the identification of novel sources of abiotic and biotic stress resistance in monocots, using rice as a model system, aiming to diminish the excessive amount of crops that are lost every year to drought and pathogens. These novel sources of resistance will allow us to reduce the use of fungicides, mitigating the environmental impact while ensuring food security to the consumer and improving crop productivity to farmers.

Biography & research interests

I am originally from Colombia, where I studied biology. To pursue graduate studies, I moved to the USA where I obtained my PhD in Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology at Cornell University under the supervision of Dr. William Fry.
During my graduate studies I worked on the characterization of the population structure, genetics and epidemiology of the late blight pathogen Phythophthora infestans with the aim of developing strategies to guarantee an early detection system, an adequate management plan and to contribute with long term solutions by monitoring pathogen populations during the course of the growing season.
After my graduate studies I joined the laboratory of Dr. Marc Valls at the Centre of Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) in Barcelona, Spain. I studied the interaction between the bacterial pathogen Ralstonia solanacaerum and its hosts in the Solanaceae family: Solanum commersonii and S. lycopersicum. Some of the main contributions in this work were the developing of a luminescent bacterial strain with the aim of helping plant breeders to screen potato germplasm for resistance against R. solanacearum. In addition, we did the transcriptomics of this root pathogen in planta during a compatible and a non-compatible interaction, where we learned both, the mechanisms by which the host defends itself against this bacterium, and the pathogenicity factors of R. solanacearum.
After my first postdoc, I worked for the private sector in the research and development department of the company Sustainable agro solutions (Lleida, Spain) where I developed products to help plants cope with abiotic stress, specifically salinity and drought. Additionally, I screened suppressors of quorum sensing in bacteria, with the goal of developing non-bactericidal strategies of bacterial disease control.
The Agreenskills postdoctoral fellow allowed me the opportunity to increase my research skills by joining Dr. Jean-Benoit Morel’s laboratory in INRA, Montpellier. Currently, I am using a multi-disciplinary approach to study a rice protein that confers resistance to both drought and the pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae.

Selected publications

Zuluaga, A.P, Szurek B, Koebnik R, Kroj T, Morel JB. (2017) Effector mimics and integrated decoys, the never-ending arms race between rice and Xanthomonas oryzae. Front Plant Science: 8:431. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00431;
Puigvert M., Guarischi-Sousa R., Zuluaga A.P., Coll N.S., Macho A.P., Setubal J.C. and Valls M. (2017) Transcriptomes of Ralstonia solanacearum during Root Colonization of Solanum commersonii .Front. Plant Sci:;
Bidzinski P, Ballini E, Ducasse A, Michel C, Zuluaga A.P, Genga A, Chiozzotto R, Morel JB. (2016) Transcriptional Basis of Drought-Induced Susceptibility to the Rice Blast Fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. Front Plant Sci: 7:1558;
Zuluaga, A.P., Coll-S., N. and Valls . (2015). Evaluation of R. solanacearum colonization of potato germplasm using the synthetic luxCDABE operon. Bio-Protocol 4(9)a2174;
Zuluaga, A.P., Vega-Arreguín, J.C., Fei, Z., Fry, W.E. and Rose, J.K.C. (2015). Transcriptional dynamics of Phytophthora infestans, during sequential stages of hemibiotrophic infection in tomato. MPP DOI: 10.1111/mpp.12263;
Zuluaga, A.P., Vega-Arreguín, J.C., Fei, Z., Fry, W.E. and Rose, J.K.C. (2015). Analysis of the tomato transcriptome during a compatible interaction with the hemibiotrophic pathogen Phytophthora infestans. MPP DOI:10.1111/mpp.12260;
Zuluaga, A.P., Solé, M., Lu, H., Góngora-Castillo, E., Vaillancourt, B., Coll, N.S., Buell, C.R. and Valls, M. (2015). Transcriptome responses to Ralstonia solanacearum infection in the roots of the wild potato Solanum commersonii. BMCGenomics 16:246.



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