Welcome to the Gasperini lab! In our group, we investigate how cells within tissues perceive chemical or mechanical stress signals at the plasma membrane to initiate intracellular responses. Roots of plants growing in nature are constantly subjected to mechanical and biotic stimuli during soil penetration. In order to adapt to environmental fluctuations, plants have developed elaborate sensing mechanisms that respond to external cues and incorporate them in basal development. One such plant response to wounding or herbivory is the production of the phytohormone jasmonate (JA) that induces transcriptional changes required to trigger defense mechanisms and regulate growth. Although critical aspects of JA biosynthesis and perception are well characterized, it is still unclear how extracellular stimuli trigger and modulate JA production and how can a single hormone induce so many different downstream responses.
By using primary roots of Arabidopsis thaliana and forefront genetic, imaging and analytical approaches, we aim to identify novel signalling pathways leading to JA responses. This will enhance our basic knowledge of how plants perceive, transmit and integrate information about their environment to prompt adaptive metabolic and growth responses. Furthermore, our research will allow a better comparison of the strategies used by plant and animal cells to decode extracellular stimuli.