Novel tools for safer and sustainable agriculture

Pioneering work on the role of the jasmonate signalling pathway in Arabidopsis thaliana done by researcher Roberto Solano, from the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología of CSIC (CNB-CSIC), has yielded fundamental insights into how plants perceive changes in their environment and integrate stress signals with their internal developmental programs, to induce adaptive responses and survive in nature. International recognition of his scientific contributions is evidenced by his election as EMBO member in 2016 and by his inclusion in Thomson Reuter’s list of the world’s most influential scientific minds animal and plant sciences for 3 years in a row (2014, 2015, 2016). Based on previous findings that the bacterial phytotoxin coronatine (COR) mimics the response of jasmonate by forming a high-affinity ternary complex with the F-box COI1 and a member of the JAZ family of co-repressors, his group designed and synthesized, in collaboration with the company Lipidox, the competitive antagonist coronatine-O-methyloxime (COR-MO; Nat Chem Biol 2014, 10:671-6). This compound potently inhibits COI1-JAZ interaction, JAZ degradation and the effects of JA-Ile or COR on several JA-mediated responses in Arabidopsis thaliana. Moreover, it potentiates plant resistance, preventing the effect of bacterially produced COR during Pseudomonas syringae infections in different plant species. The use of coronatine derivatives to enhance crop defences against biotrophic and hemi-biotrophic pathogens has been protected by a European patent application (EP13382362.5) and an international PCT application (PCT/EP2014/069796); an exclusive license agreement for the control of plant pathogens using these novel coronatine derivatives has been signed with Plant Bioscience Ltd.