Understanding the Interaction Between Rhizogenic Agrobacteria and Tomato Roots

Tomato roots are continuously challenged by organisms living in their rhizosphere, such as nematodes, fungi and bacteria. Protein-protein interactions are essential in the establishment of these relations. Therefore, we are currently developing a platform to visualise and map the protein interaction networks that determine the responses of tomato roots to these biotic cues and identify key elements therein.

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is an important crop for Belgium and The Netherlands. The rootstocks commonly used in greenhouses, however, are susceptible to Agrobacterium strains causing the crazy root disease. Our research aims to map the key events in the development of the crazy root disease. With transcriptomics and metabolomics analyses, a holistic view on the molecular events that occur during Agrobacterium infection of tomato plants and the subsequent development of the crazy root disease will be acquired. Through interactomics studies with state-of-the-art technologies such as Y2H-Seq and AP-MS, we will also identify tomato proteins that are targeted by Agrobacterium virulence effector proteins and oncoproteins. Together, these omics technologies will provide us with a list of tomato genes that will be further investigated. Ultimately, our project aspires to generate targets for tomato resistance engineering and breeding.

 Tomato roots are challenged by various organisms, which all affect root growth and/or architecture, which in turn will increase (+, Mycorrhiza and plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR)) or decrease (-, Agrobacterium and nematodes) tomato yield.