Research Epigenetics & Defence

There is a pressing need to develop sustainable ways of stress and disease control to safeguard crop yields in a environment of ´global change´. The research of the unit ´Epigenetics & Defense´ focuses on the cereal model plant Oryza sativa (rice), a crop which is a major staple food for more than half of the world’s population. By combining and comparing metabolic, transcriptional and epigenetic analyses, the molecular patterns underlying plant responses to different biotic stress factors is studied. The ultimate aim of this research unit is to provide scientific and practical answers to the problems that the agricultural food supply is facing upon changing environmental conditions.


The research group, led by Prof. Tina Kyndt, is investigating the molecular mechanisms underpinning plant stress physiology, with a specific focus on biotic stress factors in cereals. The group is looking for answers on questions like: how does a plant store information from previous stress encounters into its genome and epigenome in order to defend itself against future pathogen attacks? To what extent do pathogens modify the plant epigenome in order to attain plant susceptibility and ultimately disease? How can plant defense be efficiently enhanced by stimulation of the natural immune system?

You can watch a short movie about our research here :