Lab

Ana Margarida Fortes' Lab

About the lab

FFGB Lab (https://ffgb.pt) studies fruit ripening and defense. We have been gathering knowledge on the transcriptome, hormonome and metabolome associated with these processes. Particularly relevant are the study of transcription factors identified as key regulators of fruit ripening and defense based on omics data. Additionally, we focus not only on the general primary and secondary metabolisms but also on targeted studies on cell wall components, hormones and volatiles associated with fruit quality and defense. We also explore physiological responses induced under drought and/ or infection with fungal pathogens and how the microbiome is changed in these scenarios. Our main goal is crop improvement: we use multiomics analyses to select key genes for functional analysis using gene editing.

Featured projects (1)

Project
We are studying the role played by jasmonic acid/ ethylene as well as salicylic acid during the process.

Featured research (8)

The biotrophic fungus Erysiphe necator causes powdery mildew (PM) in grapevine. Phytohormones are major modulators of defensive responses in plants but the analysis of the hormonome associated with grapevine tolerance and susceptibility against this pathogen has not been elucidated. In this study, changes in hormonal profiling were compared between a tolerant (Vitis rupestris × riparia cv. 101-14 Millardet et de Grasset) and a susceptible (Vitis vinifera cv. Aragonêz) species upon E. necator infection. Control and PM-infected leaves were collected at 0, 6, 24, 96 h post-infection (hpi), and analysed through LC-MS/MS. The results showed a distinct constitutive hormonome between tolerant and susceptible species. Constitutive high levels of salicylic acid (SA) and indole-3- acetic acid together with additional fast induction of SA within the first 6 hpi as well as constitutive low levels of jasmonates and abscisic acid may enable a faster and more efficient response towards the PM. The balance among the different phytohormones seems to be species-specific and fundamental in providing tolerance or susceptibility. These insights may be used to develop strategies for conventional breeding and/or editing of genes involved in hormonal metabolism aiming at providing a durable resistance in grapevine against E. necator.
The biotrophic fungus Erysiphe necator causes powdery mildew (PM) in grapevine. Phytohormones are major modulators of defensive responses in plants but the analysis of the hormonome associated with grapevine tolerance and susceptibility against this pathogen has not been elucidated. In this study, changes in hormonal profiling were compared between a tolerant (Vitis rupestris × riparia cv. 101-14 Millardet et de Grasset) and a susceptible (Vitis vinifera cv. Aragonêz) species upon E. necator infection. Control and PM-infected leaves were collected at 0, 6, 24, 96 h post-infection (hpi), and analysed through LC-MS/MS. The results showed a distinct constitutive hormonome between tolerant and susceptible species. Constitutive high levels of salicylic acid (SA) and indole-3-acetic acid together with additional fast induction of SA within the first 6 hpi as well as constitutive low levels of jasmonates and abscisic acid may enable a faster and more efficient response towards the PM. The balance among the different phytohormones seems to be species-specific and fundamental in providing tolerance or susceptibility. These insights may be used to develop strategies for conventional breeding and/or editing of genes involved in hormonal metabolism aiming at providing a durable resistance in grapevine against E. necator.
Botrytis cinerea is responsible for the gray mold disease, severely affecting Vitis vinifera grapevine and hundreds of other economically important crops. However, many mechanisms of this fruit-pathogen interaction remain unknown. The combined analysis of the transcriptome and metabolome of green fruits infected with B. cinerea from susceptible and tolerant genotypes was never performed in any fleshy fruit, mostly because green fruits are widely accepted to be resistant to this fungus. In this work, peppercorn-sized fruits were infected in the field or mock-treated, and infected berries were collected at green (EL32) stage from a susceptible (Trincadeira) and a tolerant (Syrah) variety. RNAseq and GC-MS data suggested that Syrah exhibited a pre-activated/basal defense relying on specific signaling pathways, hormonal regulation, namely jasmonate and ethylene metabolisms, and linked to phenylpropanoid metabolism. In addition, putative defensive metabolites such as shikimic, ursolic/ oleanolic, and trans-4-hydroxy cinnamic acids, and epigallocatechin were more abundant in Syrah than Trincadeira before infection. On the other hand, Trincadeira underwent relevant metabolic reprogramming upon infection but was unable to contain disease progression. RNA-seq analysis of the fungus in planta revealed an opposite scenario with higher gene expression activity within B. cinerea during infection of the tolerant cultivar and less activity in infected Trincadeira berries. The results suggested an activated virulence state during interaction with the tolerant cultivar without visible disease symptoms. Together, this study brings novel insights related to early infection strategies of B. cinerea and the green berry defense against necrotrophic fungi.
Botrytis cinerea is responsible for the gray mold disease, severely affecting Vitis vinifera grapevine and hundreds of other economically important crops. However, many mechanisms of this fruit-pathogen interaction remain unknown. The combined analysis of the transcriptome and metabolome of green fruits infected with B. cinerea from susceptible and tolerant genotypes was never performed in any fleshy fruit, mostly because green fruits are widely accepted to be resistant to this fungus. In this work, peppercorn-sized fruits were infected in the field or mock-treated, and infected berries were collected at green (EL32) stage from a susceptible (Trincadeira) and a tolerant (Syrah) variety. RNAseq and GC-MS data suggested that Syrah exhibited a pre-activated/basal defense relying on specific signaling pathways, hormonal regulation, specifically jasmonate and ethylene metabolism, and linked to phenylpropanoid metabolism. In addition, putative defensive metabolites such as shikimic, ursolic/ oleanolic, and trans -4-hydroxy cinnamic acids, and epigallocatechin were more abundant in Syrah than Trincadeira before infection. On the other hand, Trincadeira underwent relevant metabolic reprogramming upon infection but was unable to contain disease progression. RNA-seq analysis of the fungus in planta revealed an opposite scenario with higher gene expression activity within B. cinerea during infection of the tolerant cultivar and less activity in infected Trincadeira berries. The results suggested an activated virulence state during interaction with the tolerant cultivar without visible disease symptoms. Together, this study brings novel insights related to early infection strategies of B. cinerea and the green berry defense against necrotrophic fungi.

Lab head

Ana Margarida Fortes
Department
  • Faculty of Science

Members (3)

Florent Weiller
  • University of Lisbon
Helena Silva Santos
  • BioISI- Biosystems & Integrative Sciences Institute
Rute Amaro
  • University of Lisbon

Alumni (6)

Patricia Agudelo-Romero
  • University of Western Australia
Inês Diniz
  • University of Lisbon
Diana Pimentel
  • InnovPlantProtect
Flávio Soares
  • University of Lisbon