Defensins in forest trees

BLE-WKF Defensins as vitality markers in forests

The project "Defensins for monitoring and characterizing the vitality of deciduous forests under changing climatic conditions" (DeMoVit) is funded in the frame of the "Waldklimafonds" by the Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (Förderzeichen 28W-B-4-130-03; 2018-2020). European beeches (Fagus sylvatica) and oaks (including Quercus petraea) are the most prevalent deciduous tree species in Germany with a great ecological and forest management significance. In order to ensure the sustainable development and management of these species practicable and precise methods for the early detection of abiotic and biotic vitality stressors are necessary.

Plant defensins (PDFs) represent a large group of small peptides that have been studied in many organisms. They play a central role in the defense of plants against various forms of abiotic and biotic stress. Within the framework of this collaborative project, the Universities of Braunschweig, Freiburg, and Eberswalde and Helmholtz Zentrum München will investigate the suitability of the expression of PDFs as fitness markers for trees. Vision is the development of a "handhold" antibody-based test strip system that can be used in natural forest stands as a diagnostic tool for the early detection of growth-damaging effects. As basis for the derivation of defensin protein sequences, we will create reference transcriptomes for both tree species. In DeMoVit environmental simulation experiments will be performed and analyzed on changes in the proteome composition and the expression of PDFs induced by abiotic and biotic stressors.

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