Can inherited memories of stress help protect crops from pests and disease?
My name is Dominic and I’m extremely excited to be working towards a PhD in Biological Sciences. I have previously obtained an Integrated Master’s in Biochemistry from the University of York during which I fostered my interest for plant biology. I started my undergraduate degree studying general biochemistry and molecular biology but my interests eventually shifted to plant sciences and biotechnology. For my final year project at York, I worked in the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) and investigated germination in Arabidopsis thaliana.
Due to various concerns about pesticides, such as harm to the environment or residues on food, there is increasing pressure to look for alternatives for protecting crops from pests and disease. One such alternative is ‘priming’. Priming is a phenomenon by which, following an initial exposure to pests, plants are able to launch stronger defence responses to pests in the future. This could be likened to getting a vaccination for plants! Plants can also be primed by treating them with hormones rather than exposing them to pests. Working with our industrial partner, APS Salads, we hope to make priming a viable alternative for pesticides in commercial tomato growth.