CNR Plant Protection Institute


CNR Plant Protection Institute


The Istituto per la Protezione delle Piante , or 'Institute of Plant Protection', is part of the Food Department of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche , an Italian government organization with the aim of supporting scientific and technological research. IPP has four bases in Italy: Turin, Florence, Portici, and Bari. The mission of IPP is the study of stress factors in plants, to identify resistance mechanisms and methods of defence against biotic and abiotic stress protection in order to improve the quality and quantity of agricultural food production in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. The activities of IPP are divided into five orders: Biodiversity of hosts, pathogens, vectors, pests and symbiotic fungi in the rhizosphere. Host-organism-environment interaction: biology, epidemiology and functional genomics. Research and development of innovative strategies to fight for protection of plants. Economic impact and environmental stress factors on plants and ecosystems agroforestry production. Structure and functioning of terrestrial ecosystems. The IPP station in Florence is renowned for raising elm cultivars resistant to Dutch elm disease, several of which are now in commerce in western Europe. Wikipedia.

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Bonfante P.,CNR Plant Protection Institute | Requena N.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Current Opinion in Plant Biology | Year: 2011

The arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis that involves most plants and Glomeromycota fungi is the result of a complex exchange of molecular information, which commences before the partners are in physical contact. On the one hand, plants release soluble factors, including strigolactones that activate both the metabolism and branching of the fungal partners. On the other hand, fungi use compounds that trigger the signaling transduction pathways that are required for the symbiotic modus of plant cells. Here we describe some of the recent discoveries regarding the fungal molecules involved in rhizospheric conversation, and the way in which they are perceived by their hosts. We conclude that similar signaling molecules may have different meanings, depending on the context. However, at the end, specificity must be maintained to ensure appropriate partners enter symbiosis. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Loreto F.,CNR Plant Protection Institute | Schnitzler J.-P.,Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Trends in Plant Science | Year: 2010

Plants produce a wide spectrum of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) in various tissues above and below ground to communicate with other plants and organisms. However, BVOCs also have various functions in biotic and abiotic stresses. For example abiotic stresses enhance BVOCs emission rates and patterns, altering the communication with other organisms and the photochemical cycles. Recent new insights on biosynthesis and eco-physiological control of constitutive or induced BVOCs have led to formulation of hypotheses on their functions which are presented in this review. Specifically, oxidative and thermal stresses are relieved in the presence of volatile terpenes. Terpenes, C6 compounds, and methyl salicylate are thought to promote direct and indirect defence by modulating the signalling that biochemically activate defence pathways. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Pollastri S.,University of Florence | Tattini M.,CNR Plant Protection Institute
Annals of Botany | Year: 2011

Background: New roles for flavonoids, as developmental regulators and/or signalling molecules, have recently been proposed in eukaryotic cells exposed to a wide range of environmental stimuli. In plants, these functions are actually restricted to flavonols, the ancient and widespread class of flavonoids. In mosses and liverworts, the whole set of genes for flavonol biosynthesis - CHS, CHI, F3H, FLS and F3′H - has been detected. The flavonol branch pathway has remained intact for millions of years, and is almost exclusively involved in the responses of plants to a wide array of stressful agents, despite the fact that evolution of flavonoid metabolism has produced >10 000 structures. • Scope: Here the emerging functional roles of flavonoids in the responses of present-day plants to different stresses are discussed based on early, authoritative views of their primary functions during the colonization of land by plants. Flavonols are not as efficient as other secondary metabolites in absorbing wavelengths in the 290-320 nm spectral region, but display the greatest potential to keep stress-induced changes in cellular reactive oxygen species homeostasis under control, and to regulate the development of individual organs and the whole plant. Very low flavonol concentrations, as probably occurred in early terrestrial plants, may fully accomplish these regulatory functions. • Conclusions: During the last two decades the routine use of genomic, chromatography/mass spectrometry and fluorescence microimaging techniques has provided new insights into the regulation of flavonol metabolism as well as on the inter- and intracellular distribution of stress-responsive flavonols. These findings offer new evidence on how flavonols may have performed a wide array of functional roles during the colonization of land by plants. In our opinion this ancient flavonoid class is still playing the same old and robust roles in present-day plants. © The Author 2011.

Agati G.,National Research Council Italy | Azzarello E.,University of Florence | Pollastri S.,University of Florence | Tattini M.,CNR Plant Protection Institute
Plant Science | Year: 2012

Stress-responsive dihydroxy B-ring-substituted flavonoids have great potential to inhibit the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reduce the levels of ROS once they are formed, i.e., to perform antioxidant functions. These flavonoids are located within or in the proximity of centers of ROS generation in severely stressed plants. Efficient mechanisms have been recently identified for the transport of flavonoids from the endoplasmic reticulum, the site of their biosynthesis, to different cellular compartments. The mechanism underlying flavonoid-mediated ROS reduction in plants is still unclear. 'Antioxidant' flavonoids are found in the chloroplast, which suggests a role as scavengers of singlet oxygen and stabilizers of the chloroplast outer envelope membrane. Dihydroxy B-ring substituted flavonoids are present in the nucleus of mesophyll cells and may inhibit ROS-generation making complexes with Fe and Cu ions. The genes that govern the biosynthesis of antioxidant flavonoids are present in liverworts and mosses and are mostly up-regulated as a consequence of severe stress. This suggests that the antioxidant flavonoid metabolism is a robust trait of terrestrial plants. Vacuolar dihydroxy B-ring flavonoids have been reported to serve as co-substrates for vacuolar peroxidases to reduce H2O2 escape from the chloroplast, following the depletion of ascorbate peroxidase activity. Antioxidant flavonoids may effectively control key steps of cell growth and differentiation, thus acting regulating the development of the whole plant and individual organs. © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.

Paoletti E.,CNR Plant Protection Institute | Grulke N.E.,U.S. Department of Agriculture
Environmental Pollution | Year: 2010

Gas exchange responses to static and variable light were tested in three species: snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris, two cultivars), California black oak (Quercus kelloggii), and blue oak (Q. douglasii). The effects of 1-month (snap beans) and 2-month (oaks) O3 (ozone) exposure (70 ppb over 8 h per day in open-top chambers) were investigated. A delay in stomatal responses (i.e., 'sluggish' responses) to variable light was found to be both an effect of O3 exposure and a reason for increased O3 sensitivity in snap bean cultivars, as it implied higher O3 uptake during times of disequilibrium. Sluggishness increased the time to open (thus limiting CO 2 uptake) and close stomata (thus increasing transpirational water loss) after abrupt changes in light level. Similar responses were shown by snap beans and oaks, suggesting that O3-induced stomatal sluggishness is a common trait among different plant physiognomic classes. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Pollastri S.,CNR Plant Protection Institute | Tsonev T.,Bulgarian Academy of Science | Loreto F.,National Research Council Italy
Journal of Experimental Botany | Year: 2014

Isoprene-emitting plants are better protected against thermal and oxidative stresses. Isoprene may strengthen membranes avoiding their denaturation and may quench reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, achieving a similar protective effect. The physiological role of isoprene in unstressed plants, up to now, is not understood. It is shown here, by monitoring the non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) of chlorophyll fluorescence of leaves with chemically or genetically altered isoprene biosynthesis, that chloroplasts of isoprene-emitting leaves dissipate less energy as heat than chloroplasts of non-emitting leaves, when exposed to physiologically high temperatures (28-37 °C) that do not impair the photosynthetic apparatus. The effect was especially remarkable at foliar temperatures between 30 °C and 35 °C, at which isoprene emission is maximized and NPQ is quenched by about 20%. Isoprene may also allow better stability of photosynthetic membranes and a more efficient electron transfer through PSII at physiological temperatures, explaining most of the NPQ reduction and the slightly higher photochemical quenching that was also observed in isoprene-emitting leaves. The possibility that isoprene emission helps in removing thermal energy at the thylakoid level is also put forward, although such an effect was calculated to be minimal. These experiments expand current evidence that isoprene is an important trait against thermal and oxidative stresses and also explains why plants invest resources in isoprene under unstressed conditions. By improving PSII efficiency and reducing the need for heat dissipation in photosynthetic membranes, isoprene emitters are best fitted to physiologically high temperatures and will have an evolutionary advantage when adapting to a warming climate. © The Author 2014.

Bonfante P.,CNR Plant Protection Institute | Genre A.,CNR Plant Protection Institute
Nature Communications | Year: 2010

Mycorrhizal fungi are a heterogeneous group of diverse fungal taxa, associated with the roots of over 90% of all plant species. Recently, state-of-the-art molecular and genetic tools, coupled to high-throughput sequencing and advanced microscopy, have led to the genome and transcriptome analysis of several symbionts. Signalling pathways between plants and fungi have now been described and the identification of several novel nutrient transporters has revealed some of the cellular processes that underlie symbiosis. Thus, the contributions of each partner in a mycorrhizal association are starting to be unravelled. This new knowledge is now available for use in agricultural practices. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Loreto F.,National Research Council Italy | Fineschi S.,CNR Plant Protection Institute
New Phytologist | Year: 2015

578 I. 578 II. 579 III. 580 581 References 581 Summary: Compilation and analysis of existing inventories reveal that isoprene is emitted by c. 20% of the perennial vegetation of tropical and temperate regions of the world. Isoprene emitters are found across different plant families without any clear phylogenetic thread. However, by critically appraising information in inventories, several ecological patterns of isoprene emission can be highlighted, including absence of emission from C4 and annual plants, and widespread emission from perennial and deciduous plants of temperate environments. Based on this analysis, and on available information on biochemistry, ecology and functional roles of isoprene, it is suggested that isoprene may not have evolved to help plants face heavy or prolonged stresses, but rather assists C3 plants to run efficient photosynthesis and to overcome transient and mild stresses, especially during periods of active plant growth in warm seasons. When the stress status persists, or when evergreen leaves cope with multiple and repeated stresses, isoprene biosynthesis is replaced by the synthesis of less volatile secondary compounds, in part produced by the same biochemical pathway, thus indicating causal determinism in the evolution of isoprene-emitting plants in response to the environment. © 2014 New Phytologist Trust.

Lanfranco L.,CNR Plant Protection Institute | Young J.P.W.,University of York
Current Opinion in Plant Biology | Year: 2012

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), which form an ancient and widespread mutualistic symbiosis with plants, are a crucial but still enigmatic component of the plant microbiome. Nowadays, their obligate biotrophy is no longer an obstacle to deciphering the role played by AMF in this fascinating symbiosis. The first genome-wide transcriptomic analysis of an AMF showed a metabolic complexity with no sign of massive gene loss, and the presence of genes for meiotic recombination suggests that AMF are not simple clonal organisms, as originally thought. New findings on suppression of host defenses and nutrient exchange processes have shed light on the mechanisms that contribute to such an intimate and long-lasting integration between living plant and fungal cells. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Plant-parasitic nematodes are pests of a wide range of economically important crops, causing severe losses to agriculture. Natural genetic resistance of plants is expected to be a valid solution of the many problems nematodes cause all over the world. Progress in resistance applications is particularly important for the less-developed countries of tropical and subtropical regions, since use of resistant cultivars may be the only possible and economically feasible control strategy in those farming systems. Resistance is being considered of particular importance also in modern high-input production systems of developed countries, as the customary reliance on chemical nematicides has been restricted or has come to an end. This review briefly describes the genetic bases of resistance to nematodes in plants and focuses on the chances and problems of its exploitation as a key element in an integrated management program. Much space is dedicated to the major problem of resistance durability, in that the intensive use of resistant cultivars is likely to increasingly induce the selection of virulent populations able to "break" the resistance. Protocols of pest-host suitability are described, as bioassays are being used to evaluate local nematode populations in their potential to be selected on resistant germplasm and endanger resistant crops. The recent progress in using robust and durable resistances against nematodes as an efficient method for growers in vegetable cropping systems is reported, as well as the possible use of chemicals that do not show any unfavorable impact on environment, to induce in plants resistance against plant-parasitic nematodes. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.

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