Christine Becker

Christine Becker

AgreenSkills session, year: 2nd session, 2015

Receiving laboratory: INRA-PACA, Institut Sophia Agrobiotech

Country of origin : Germany




Mobility project

Impact of Water and Nitrogen Constraint on Herbivore-Induced Volatile and Nonvolatile Chemical Defence in Tomato Plants

Feeding herbivores induce direct and indirect defence mechanisms in plants both of which involve chemical compounds. Direct defence might be an increased concentration of toxic alkaloids in nightshades, indirect defence might be the attraction of the herbivore’s natural enemies by emitting volatile organic compounds. Abiotic constraints can increase constitutive chemical defence in plants but there is a lack of information regarding induced defence.
Nitrogen and water availability are crucial factors in crop production both in terms of yield and environmental compatibility. Excessive nitrogen input leads to eutrophication while, in a changing global climate, water is becoming even more precious in dry regions like the Mediterranean. Studies indicate that nitrogen and water limitation can impact the production and/or emission of herbivore-induced plant volatiles. Additionally, these factors can trigger bottom-up effects by altering plant nutritional value and toxicity which in turn affects herbivores and thereby their natural enemies.
Predatory and parasitoid insects are used as biological control agents in crop production systems. This kind of integrated pest management could be improved by a better coordination of biotic and abiotic measures.
My objective is to gather detailed information on the impact of nitrogen and water limitation on defence compounds of tomato plants. Furthermore, I want to optimize abiotic conditions to support the natural enemies’ efficiency while possibly reducing the use of water and nitrogen into for crop production. I use insect herbivores from different feeding guilds because the plant’s response to them can vary and lead to different changes in chemical composition and trophic cascades.

Biography & research interests

I studied biology at the University of Würzburg, Germany, and graduated in 2009. From 2010 to 2013 I did my PhD at the Berlin University of Technology and the Leibniz Institute for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops Großbeeren, Germany, and worked there for another postdoctoral year until, in 2015, I started working as PostDoc in France. My first position was at the University Nice Sophia Antipolis and then at the French National Research Institute for Agronomy (INRA), Sophia Antipolis.
My research interests are chemical ecology, plant insect-interactions, and plant ecophysiology. I like to combine ecological methods with analytical chemistry to widen the scale on which I gather information on the studied (agro-) ecosystem.

Selected publications

Dannehl, D., Becker, C., Suhl, J., Josuttis, M., Schmidt, U. 2016. “Reuse of Organomineral Substrate Waste from Hydroponic Systems as Fertilizer in Open-Field Production Increases Yields, Flavonoid Glycosides, and Caffeic Acid Derivatives of Red Oak Leaf Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) Much More than Synthetic Fertilizer”. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 64: 7068-7075.

Becker, C., Klaering, H.-P. 2016. “CO2 enrichment can produce high red leaf lettuce yield while increasing most flavonoid glycoside and some caffeic acid derivative concentrations”. Food Chemistry 199: 736-745.

Becker, C., Desneux, N., Monticelli, L., Fernandez, X., Michel, T., Lavoir, A.V. 2015. “Effects of abiotic factors on HIPV-mediated interactions between plants and parasitoids”. BioMedResearch 2015, Article ID 342982, 18 pages.

Becker, C., Urlić, B., Jukić Špika, M., Klaering, H.-P., Krumbein, A., Baldermann, S., Goreta Ban, S., Perica, S., Schwarz, D. 2015. “Nitrogen limited red and green leaf lettuce accumulates flavonoid glycosides and caffeic acid derivatives while losing chlorophylls, β-carotene and xanthophylls.” PLoS ONE 10: e0142867.

Becker, C. accepted 2015 “Flavonoids and phenolic acids in lettuce: How can we maximize their concentration? And why should we?” Acta Horticulturae, Proceedings of the 6th Balkan Symposium on Vegetables and Potatoes

Becker, C., Klaering, H.-P., Schreiner, M., Kroh, L.W., Krumbein, A. 2014. “Unlike Quercetin Glycosides, Cyanidin Glycoside in Red Leaf Lettuce Responds More Sensitively to Increasing Low Radiation Intensity before than after Head Formation Has Started.”Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 62: 6911-6917.

Becker, C., Klaering, H.-P. Kroh, L.W., Krumbein, A. 2014. “Cool-cultivated red leaf lettuce accumulates cyanidin-3-O-(6‘‘-O-malonyl)-glucoside and caffeoylmalic acid.”
Food Chemistry 146: 404-411.

Becker, C., Klaering, H.-P., Kroh, L.W., Krumbein, A. 2013. “Temporary reduction of radiation does not permanently reduce flavonoid glycosides and phenolic acids in red lettuce.” Plant Physiology and Biochemistry 72: 154-160.

Reifenrath, K., Becker, C., Poethke, H.J. 2012. “Diaspore trait preferences of dispersing ants.”Journal of Chemical Ecology, 38: 1093-1104.

Awards & patents

2014 National German Sustainability Award for ZINEG project (context of PhD thesis);
2014 Poster Award, 49. Jahrestagung DGG & BHGL, March 3rd-5th, 2014, Dresden, Germany;
2013 PhD dissertation with distinction;
2012 Poster Award, 8th Plant Science Student Conference, June 4th-7th 2012, Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, Gatersleben, Germany.