Context and stakes
To ensure abundant and high quality crops while reducing inputs (particularly pesticides) has become a major challenge in agriculture. It orientates both public policies (for instance through the Ecophyto plan in France or the EU Directive on Sustainable use of pesticides) and agricultural research towards sustainable cropping systems with reduced environmental impact.
Meanwhile, the main factor limiting crop quality, yield and regularity remains le frequent epidemic development of resident and emerging pests. At the same time, the many opportunities for non-chemical regulation of these outbreaks offered by the plants themselves are still under-exploited. It is this potential that the Resistance and Adaptation Team at IGEPP endeavours to study and exploit, through research programmes and projects aiming to understand, use and combine control options linked to the plant itself (genetic resistance, plant and crop architecture, induced resistance, management of plant microbial communities) for a lasting control of epidemics.
Taking together into account the diversity of plant genetic factors, of associated microbial communities, and of pest and pathogen populations, but also the caracteristics of agroecosystems should indeed allow us to design ideotypes (i.e. "ideal cultivars") and management strategies making the best use of plant resources in both conventional and organic production systems.
Objectives and scientific strategy
The RA team project is organised around six scientific themes, all interconnected and each made of one or few research questions :
Four "core" themes, acting as disciplinary pillars:
- #Resistance, centered upon the genetic determinism and the operation of quantitaive resistances to plant diseases;
- #Architecture, which deals with the effects of plant and crop morphology and topology on epidemic processes ;
- #Adaptation, investigating the evolutionary dynamics of plant pathogen populations facing host resistances ;
- #Microbiome, which targets the analysis of the impact of microbial communities associated to plants ( in the rhizosphere or phyllosphere) on resistance expression and/or modulation.
Two "crossroads" themes, serving as places for interfacing and application:
- #Multistress, which deals with the simultaneous management of several diseases or even several types of stress (e.g. disease and nitrogen starvation),
- #Control, quiwhich is where we develop and integrate knowledge, but also technologies for a better use of plant traits in the sustainable management of epidemics.
These themes and their connections serve as the basis for the setup of operational research projects. Our aim is to generate both new knowledge and theoretical developments in our disciplinary areas (genetics, plant and microbial physiology, ecology, evolution, etc…) and applied solutions to be transferred to extension organisations. We work on a wide range of plant pathogens ( including fungi, oomycetes, bacteria, nematodes and viruses) attacking major arable crops ( oilseed rape, potato, grain legumes – pea, faba bean, lupine-, sugar beet). This leads us to undertake most of our research activities in close connection with Agricultural Technical Institutes (Arvalis, Terres Inovia, Fédération Nationale des Producteurs de Plants de Pomme de Terre, Institut Technique de la Betterave), but also with the biocontrol and/or seed industry. These partnerships are strenghetned through the hosting of two Technological Joint Units, Innoplant and Pisom.
Competences and expertise
Our research activities rely heavily on a multidisciplinary approach, mobilising our competences in plant pathology, epidemiology, plant and microbial genetics and physiology, molecular genetics, genomics, quantitative genetics, population genetics and evolutionary ecology. This complementarity allows us to connect genetic and functional characteristics of plants, pests and associated microbes at different scales (genes, individuals, populations, communities and agrosystems).
Didier Andrivon, Senior Scientist
Phone: (+33) 2 23 48 51 93