Sebastian Schenk

Sebastian Schenk

AgreenSkills session, year: 2nd session, 2014

Receiving laboratory: URGV Plant Genomics Versailles Grignon, France

Country of origin : Germany




Mobility project

Water deficiency is an important abiotic stress that limits productivity in agriculture. In response to this deficiency, the phytohormone abscisic acid (ABA) plays a crucial role in plants. This hormone regulates transpiration via stomata closure, plays a role in vegetative dehydration responses, and is involved in signaling crosstalk in both biotic and abiotic stresses. The hosting laboratory identified and characterized a new Arabidopsis MAPK module, defined by MAP3K17/18-MKK3-MPK1/2/7/14, which is involved in drought perception and activated by ABA. Interestingly, preliminary results indicate that MPK1/2/7/14 is activated by other signals, including biotic and abiotic stresses as well as by nitrogen status of the plant. The working hypothesis is that this activation occurs through different MAP3Ks activating the MKK3-MPK1/2/7/14 sub-module. The project proposes to (1) validate the activation of the MKK3-MPK1/2/7/14 sub-module by the new signals, (2) identify the upstream MAP3Ks, and (3) investigate the physiological implications of the crosstalk between those pathways, in particular how the nitrogen signaling can promote abiotic stress tolerance in plants. The final goal of the project is to investigate combined environmental stress conditions on plants to develop new strategies for sustainable agriculture.

Biography & research interests

I started my scientific career in the Institute of Phytopathology at the Agricultural faculty of the University of Gießen. In 2009, I finished my Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Environmental Management and then specialized myself in molecular aspects of induced resistance of plants against different pathogens. During my Bachelor courses, I was already interested in plant research and phytopathology, and therefore decided to continue with the Master of Science in Agrobiotechnology at the University of Gießen. Since this Master program was taught in English, it introduced me to the international community of science and I could meet interesting people from all over the world. I appreciated courses in bioinformatics, molecular plant breeding, phytopathology, tissue culture, biotechnology and microbiology. In addition, during the two years of Master studies I was selected to participate in the teaching program of undergraduate students of the Institute of Phytopathology as a scientific mentor and tutor. In 2011, I graduated and continued my scientific career with my PhD studies in a project related to the molecular aspects of plant-defense-priming that is induced by bacterial communication molecules. The project was financed by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, which included basic research on Arabidopsis to later on translate this scientific knowledge to relevant crop plants. In my PhD, I was able to decipher a novel molecular mechanism in plant defense signaling which could open the door to new strategies in plant protection. At the end of the year 2014, I received my doctoral degree in agricultural science.

Selected publications

1-Schenk ST and Schikora A (2015) AHL-priming function via oxylipin and salicylic acid. Front Plant Sci. Jan 14;5:784

2-Hernández-Reyes C, Schenk ST, Neumann C, Kogel KH, Schikora A (2014) N-acyl homoserine lactone-producing bacteria protect plants against plant and human pathogens. Microb Biotechnol. Nov;7(6):580-8

3-Schenk ST, Hernández-Reyes C, Samans B, Stein E, Neumann C, Schikora M, Reichelt M, Mithöfer A, Becker A, Kogel KH, Schikora A (2014) N-Acyl-Homoserine Lactone Primes Plants for Cell Wall Reinforcement and Induces Resistance via the Salicylic Acid/Oxylipin Pathway, Plant Cell 2014 Jun 26: 2708–23

4-Schenk ST, Stein E, Kogel KH, Schikora A (2012) Arabidopsis growth and defense are modulated by bacterial quorum sensing molecules. Plant Signal Behav. 2012 Feb 1;7(2):178-81.

5-Schikora A*, Schenk ST*, Stein E*, Molitor A, Zuccaro A, Kogel KH (2011) N-acyl-homoserine lactone confers resistance towards biotrophic and hemibiotrophic pathogens via altered activation of AtMPK6. Plant Physiol. Nov;157(3):1407-18   *these authors contributed equally