Dr Rudy Dolferus: researching abiotic stress responses
Dr Rudy Dolferus researches the molecular biology of abiotic stress responses in plants.
9 May 2006 | Updated 14 October 2011
Dr Rudy Dolferus's current research includes:
investigation of the molecular basis of rice pollen sterility induced by cold and drought
mapping cold and drought tolerance quantitative trait loci (QTL) and genes in rice
molecular and physiological studies on grain number control by reproductive stage drought stress in wheat
study of gene expression and signalling events involved in the response to flooding stress in Arabidopsis.
Abiotic stresses such as cold, drought and flooding dramatically influence the yield of many important crop plants.
The reproductive stage in cereal crops such as rice and wheat is particularly sensitive to stresses such as cold and drought.
Physiological and molecular studies have shown that during stress conditions the plant restricts sugar supply for reproductive development, leading to abortion of pollen production.
Dr Dolferus's team found that drought and cold conditions repress cell wall invertase gene expression in anthers and that the hormone ABA plays an important role in the repression of invertase and other genes, culminating in pollen sterility.
Dr Rudy Dolferus's current research includes molecular and physiological studies on grain number control by reproductive stage drought stress in wheat.
Studies on stress tolerant germplasm has indicated that the tolerance mechanism involves differences in the control of ABA and auxin levels. The team is currently identifying the exact genes involved using genetic mapping (QTL and eQTL mapping) and genomics approaches.
The similarity between sterility induced by reproductive stage drought and cold stress suggests that a shared molecular mechanism is involved.
The suitability of rice as a tool for cereal genomics and the know-how about the molecular mechanism of cold and drought-induced sterility in rice is currently exploited to tackle the problem of drought-induced grain loss in wheat.
The identification of important tolerance genes and QTLs in rice will facilitate identification of the equivalent genes and QTLs in wheat. This will ultimately lead to the identification of molecular markers for breeding stress tolerant wheat cultivars.
The team's work on the flooding response of the model plant Arabidopsis focuses on the very early response to flooding (less than four hours).
They showed that the hormone ethylene plays an important role during flooding conditions.
The team are investigating the role of ethylene and AP2 domain transcription factors in mounting a defence response against flooding.
Dr Dolferus has the following qualifications:
Master of Science in Botany, Free University of Brussels, Belgium
Doctor of Philosophy (gene expression during low oxygen stress response in Arabidopsis), Free University of Brussels, Belgium.
See a list of scientific papers published by Dr Dolferus on the next page.