Plants respond to and must distinguish between beneficial and pathogenic bacteria (‘friend and foe’) surrounding them. Bacteria may manipulate the plant’s immune system to allow colonialization or can be resistant to plant defence responses such as the biosynthesis of specialized metabolites. It has been increasingly shown that plant responses occur in a cell type specific manner but single cell research has not yet been extensively explored in plant. Here, I propose to apply a state of the art in vivo protein proximity labelling technique to investigate responses to beneficial and pathogenic bacteria in the Arabidopsis thaliana root including the cell type specific level. The first objective of the proposed research is to determine if and to which extent there are differential plant responses to pathogenic and beneficial bacteria with Plant Growth Promoting effects (PGPB), which processes or specialized metabolites are involved in these responses and which regulatory proteins control these responses. This will be achieved through a multi-omics approach for which I will generate nuclear proteome data through protein proximity labelling, RNA-seq and metabolite data from A. thaliana seedlings exposed to a pathogen versus a PGPB. The second objective of this research will be to investigate the response regulation to a PGPB and a pathogen in specific root cell types by generating cell type specific nuclear proteome data. As the third objective I will determine the role of specific regulatory protein candidates from objectives 1 and 2 and their target cell type specific processes such as specialized metabolism or root development through individual gene by gene experiments. The proposed research will provide new insights into how plant responses to ‘friend or foe’ are regulated in different cell types. The generated datasets will be valuable for the community and provide a starting point for my own future independent research career.
The Sun provides the energy necessary to sustain life on Earth, making it a star of unique importance for human society. It is also the only star whose surface we can resolve to reveal the richness of the complex processes acting there, creating a highly dynamic and varied environment. Much of the structure and dynamics visible on the Sun is caused by the intricately structured magnetic field and its interaction with the turbulent plasma. However, there are considerable gaps in our knowledge of the fundamental physical processes driving the evolution of the solar magnetic field, from its generation to its removal from the solar surface, and how the field drives solar activity and variability. To fill these gaps, this project will make use of powerful new observational missions and facilities: Solar Orbiter, Sunrise III, Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) and Aditya-L1, which will open new windows onto the Sun and its magnetic field. They will provide the first clear views of the solar poles (Solar Orbiter), and the highest spatial resolution ever in the Extreme Ultraviolet (Solar Orbiter) and in the visible (DKIST). They will also explore a new spectral window onto the solar photosphere and chromosphere (Sunrise III, Aditya-L1). The advanced instrumentation, complemented by novel data analysis techniques and state-of-the-art magneto-hydrodynamic simulations, will allow tackling, often in entirely new ways, long-standing difficult problems that have resisted previous attempts at resolving them. Elucidating these will provide deep insights into the life cycle of the magnetic field, and how it affects the Sun’s atmosphere and variability. A decade’s efforts by me and my group has positioned us at the core of the new instrumentation, data analysis techniques and simulations, making us very well placed to apply the exciting data from the new resources to unravelling the fundamental physics driving the evolution of the Sun’s magnetic field.
Since we live in the polymer age, and polymers are highly inflammable, flame retardants have become a key component in industry to reduce the impact of fires. Flame retardants save people's lives, their property and in some cases even the environment. However, traditional flame retardants like halogenated compounds present some serious disadvantages, like environmental persistence and toxicity, and their use is currently limited by REACH (EC 1907/2006). Halogen-free flame retardants like organophosphorus compounds or metal hydroxides, on the other hand, deteriorate the mechanical properties and have poor effectiveness. In this area, nanotechnology provides us some badly needed new approaches. In NOFLAME, we will explore a new approach based on the development of polymer flame retardant nanocontainers with high thermal stability, low flammability and good compatibility with polymeric matrices. These nanocontainers will help solve the problems of poor dispersion and low interfacial adhesion of the inorganic and hybrid nanomaterials applied so far. Furthermore, the ability to encapsulate a wide range of substances makes them highly attractive to develop multifunctional nanomaterials. The main activities within NOFLAME are: 1) the synthesis of several nanocontainers and the encapsulation of organic and inorganic flame retardant compounds, 2) the introduction of the nanocontainers in the polymer matrix and 3) the evaluation of their influence on the mechanical and flame retardant properties of the final material. Combining their expertise for NOFLAME, the fellow Dr. Maria Velencoso, the host MPIP and the partner BAM will execute a thrilling research project to produce novel flame retardant nanomaterials and meet an urgent need of the European plastics industry.
Using strong gravitational lensing, I will constrain with my unique modelling technique and acquired knowledge the properties of dark matter and potentially revise the current standard paradigm for the formation of all structures which is at the core of modern cosmology and galaxy formation theories. Numerical simulations of cosmic structure formation have shown that the amount of mass in low-mass objects depends strongly on the assumed nature of dark matter. My goal is to constrain the nature of dark matter by measuring the dark matter mass function down to ~10^6 M_sol, where the predictions from different currently viable dark matter models differ by large factors. To this end, I will use the gravitational imaging technique, an advanced modelling tool that I have developed and pioneered, and state-of-the-art strong gravitational lensing data for 12 systems observed with cm- and mm-interferometers. At present, this is the only observational probe of low-mass structure in the dark matter distribution beyond the Local Universe. This will represent an important milestone in our understanding of the dark Universe and will provide a key observational test of the Cold Dark Matter model in a regime that has not been probed before. This ERC project will challenge our standard model for small-scale structure formation and will distinguish between “warm” and “cold” hypothesis for the nature of dark matter. This ERC project will have significant implications for the fields of cosmology and galaxy formation. I am in a unique position to achieve the scientific goal here proposed. I have extended experience in studying gravitational lenses and low mass dark structures. I have an unmatched gravitational lens modelling code and high quality data. With this ERC I will build upon my previous successes and create a top-class research group for studying dark matter with gravitational lensing.
It is a basic textbook notion that the plasma membranes of virtually all organisms display an asymmetric lipid distribution between inner and outer leaflets far removed from thermodynamic equilibrium. As a fundamental biological principle, lipid asymmetry has been linked to numerous cellular processes. However, a clear mechanistic justification for the continued existence of lipid asymmetry throughout evolution has yet to be established. We propose here that lipid asymmetry serves as a store of potential energy that is used to fuel energy-intense membrane remodelling and signalling events for instance during membrane fusion and fission. This implies that rapid, local changes of trans-membrane lipid distribution rather than a continuously maintained out-of-equilibrium situation are crucial for cellular function. Consequently, new methods for quantifying the kinetics of lipid trans-bilayer movement are required, as traditional approaches are mostly suited for analysing quasi-steady-state conditions. Addressing this need, we will develop and employ novel photochemical lipid probes and lipid biosensors to quantify localized trans-bilayer lipid movement. We will use these tools for identifying yet unknown protein components of the lipid asymmetry regulating machinery and analyse their function with regard to membrane dynamics and signalling in cell motility. Focussing on cell motility enables targeted chemical and genetic perturbations while monitoring lipid dynamics on timescales and in membrane structures that are well suited for light microscopy. Ultimately, we aim to reconstitute lipid asymmetry as a driving force for membrane remodelling in vitro. We expect that our work will break new ground in explaining one of the least understood features of the plasma membrane and pave the way for a new, dynamic membrane model. Since the plasma membrane serves as the major signalling hub, this will have impact in almost every area of the life sciences.