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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
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Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Interview of the Young Scientists for the Future 2016-2017 laureates

Interview of the Young Scientists for the Future 2016-2017 laureates
Six months after the launch of the “Young Scientists for the Future” TULIP action, here is an interview of two of the four recruited PhDs, Harihar Jaishree Subrahmanian and Manuel Gonzalez-Fuente. An opportunity to learn more about their motivation to join the TULIP community, their past experiences and the projects they are now working on.

What institution do you come from?  What are your scientific interests?

Harihar Jaishree Subrahmanian: "I am from India, I graduated with a Masters in Botany from the University of Delhi. After travelling across India and America, I worked for a while at Columbia University on a project dealing with northern Indian forest. What I am doing right now in Toulouse is something I was interested in since my Masters. Back then, I was looking at differences in leaf development as a result of differences in their ecology and I got interested in trying to understand what goes on at the genetic level. Although I could not accomplish that during my Masters project, I knew I wanted to work at the interface of ecology and molecular biology."

Manuel Gonzalez-Fuente: "I did my Bachelor in Biotechnology at the University of Salamanca, in Spain. There, I worked for 2 years in the Genetics group of the Spanish-Portuguese Institute of Agricultural Research, on nuclear effectors of Colletotrichum graminicola - a pathogenic fungus in corn. This is how I started working on plant-microbe interactions, a field that has fascinated me ever since. For this reason, I decided to continue my formation with a Master in Agricultural Genomics at the Christian Albrechts University of Kiel, in Germany. There, I kept working in this field as a research assistant in the Department of Molecular Phytopathology focusing this time on plant response in rapeseed and Arabidopsis to Verticillium longisporum infection – also a fungal pathogen – at the microRNA level."

Why did you applied to join TULIP?

Harihar Jaishree Subrahmanian: "When you search for a PhD, it is one thing to email people, but it’s a totally different rapproach to interact directly with researchers. Therefore, when I decided I to do a PhD, I started searching for summer schools and conferences pertaining to my research interest. The title of the TULIP summer school « from Genes to ecosystems » really appealed me because it was exactly what I was looking for. I met Fabrice Roux and Dominique Roby during the TULIP summer school. Fabrice was the supervisor of my workgroup and that gave us a lot of time to interact, while he explained to me his area of research. I remember telling myself :

« If I come to Europe, it’ll have to be in Fabrice’s team! »

Manuel Gonzalez-Fuente: “While I was finishing my master I started looking for PhD offers as I was sure I wanted to pursue a career in research. I was mostly looking for projects about plant-microbe interactions. So when I found the online advertisement for the TULIP Young Scientists for the Future call I contacted immediately the supervisors – today my bosses – Nemo Peeters and Laurent Noël. The aim of the project fitted perfectly with my research interests and experience so I had no doubts. In fact, I remember that I got the acceptance and started all the paper work at the same time I was writing my master thesis.”

What are you doing now?

Harihar Jaishree Subrahmanian: “My thesis topic is to study the genetics of plant-plant cooperation in Arabidopsis thaliana. Studying plant-plant interaction is important to understand how plant communities function. A lot of studies on this subject focus only on the ecological aspect and we have very little information about what goes on at the molecular level. Our team in collaboration with Dominique Roby, started to validate QTLs underlying interspecific interactions of Arabidopsis with its natural competitors. What I am doing is trying to functionally validate some QTLs involved in cooperation between different natural genotypes of Arabidopsis thaliana from a local population, which can hopefully give us clues as to how plants perceive self, non self and kin neighbors.

Manuel Gonzalez-Fuente: “My project is a collaboration between two groups working on different pathogenic bacteria: Laurent Noël’s group is working on Xanthomonas campestris whereas Nemo Peeters’ team is working on Ralstonia solanacearum. Both species cause important yield losses on a wide variety of crops. Despite their different host range, infection strategy and effectome composition, these 2 species are both xylem-colonizing bacteria and share a few type III effectors – proteins that some bacteria can inject into the plant cells through a sort of “molecular syringe”. My project aims at identifying the plant components that interact with these shared effectors in the model species Arabidopsis thaliana combining different approaches such as high throughput protein-protein interaction screenings, generation of transgenic plant material or transcriptomic analyses. This will yield a better understanding of the role of the evolutionary conserved effectors providing at the long term new resources for breeding crops with enhanced tolerance to these two important bacteria and possibly to other vascular pathogens.”