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Overcoming plant graft incompatibility by modifying signalling and perception

Project description

Sensor-like genes for improved graft formation

Grafting is a traditional process of creating new plants that combine the desirable characteristics of other plants. The new organisms offer high yields, while also becoming disease resistant. However, the process is limited to closely related species, and presents difficulties when referring to the same species. This phenomenon is known as graft incompatibility, and its mechanisms remain completely unknown. The EU-funded GRASP project will build on a previous study on Arabidopsis thaliana that identified genes acting as sensors. They rapidly operate in grafted tissues to indicate the presence of adjoining tissues and start a vascular reconnection procedure. Based on this knowledge, the project will address fundamental questions on grafting biology, aiming to improve graft formation.


For millennia, people have cut and joined together different plants through a process known as grafting. Plants tissues from different genotypes fuse, vasculature connects and a chimeric organism forms that combines desirable characteristics from different plants such as high yields or disease resistance. However, plants can only be grafted to closely related species and in some instances, they cannot be grafted to themselves. This phenomenon is referred to as graft incompatibility and the mechanistic basis is completely unknown. Our previous work on graft formation in Arabidopsis thaliana has uncovered genes that rapidly activate in grafted tissues to signal the presence of adjoining tissue and initiate a vascular reconnection process. These genes activate around the cut only during graft formation and present a powerful tool to screen large numbers of chemicals and genes that could promote tissue perception and vascular formation. With these sensors and our previously established grafting tools in the model plant Arabidopsis, we can address fundamental questions about grafting biology that have direct relevance to improving graft formation through:

1. Identifying genes required for the recognition response using forward and reverse genetic screens.
2. Determining and characterising signals that activate vascular induction using a chemical genetics screen.
3. Characterising the transcriptional basis for compatibility and incompatibility by analysing
tissues and species that graft and comparing these to tissues and species that do not graft.
4. Overcoming graft incompatibility and improving graft formation by applying the knowledge obtained from the three previous objectives.

We thus aim to broaden our fundamental understanding of the processes associated with grafting including wound healing, vascular formation and tissue regeneration, while at the same time, use this information to improve graft formation and expand the range of grafted species.



Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 902,00
Almas alle 8
750 07 Uppsala

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Östra Sverige Östra Mellansverige Uppsala län
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00

Beneficiaries (1)