Ana Maria Benko-Iseppon
Universidade Federal de Pernambuco,Brazil
Biologist, with a Ph.D. in Plant Genetics at the University of Vienna, Austria and post-doctorate in the area of Plant Molecular Biology, at the University of Frankfurt. Actually working as Full Professor in the Department of Genetics, Federal University of Pernambuco, as head of the Laboratory of Plant Genetics Biotechnology. Dr. Benko-Iseppon presents experience in the field of plant genetics, with emphasis on plant molecular biology, genomics, transcriptomics, and bioinformatics, as well as in cytogenetics, genetic mapping in plants and bioprospection of therapeutic molecules from plants.
The comprehension of the plant r esponse to pathogen attack is essential for the development of strategies to improve resistance and diminish yield losses. Besides the desired resistance, the crosstalk between plan t reaction to biotic and abiotic stre sses is also a central question, especially considering the predicted global warming scenario. In this regard, the use of strategies involving omics analysis and bioinformatics can bring interesting evidence, useful for molecular breeding, crop selection and generation of genetically modified plants. Our group has been studying ke y gene fa milies associated to plant defense in different pl ant groups includin g crops (e.g . cowpea, soybean, castor bean, grape, etc.) and medicinal plants with a focus on the families Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae, and Curcubitaceae, using transcriptomics (RNA-Seq, RT-qPCR, transgenesis) and bioinformatics approaches. Gene families studied include R (Resistance), PR (Pathogen Related), TF (Transcription Factors) and Kinases, evaluated under biotic (pathogen inoculation) and abiotic (water deficit and salinity) stresses. Besides the expression profiling, aspects of gene and protein structure and genomic evolution have been analyzed. In the case of resistant or tolerant plants (depending on the stress type), a constitutive or earlier induction of given genes has been recognized, indicating that the early stress perception and the precocious induction of other stress-associated genes is a key defense mechanism. Particularly for some TF, PR, and Kinase genes, a dual role in response to biotic and abiotic stresses has also been recognized.