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Laboratory of Plant-Microbe Interactions - LIPM

Laboratory of Plant-Microbe Interactions

Members - Endosymbiotic infection and nodule development

Dr. Fernanda de Carvalho-Niebel, CR1 CNRS, co-group leader

Fernanda DE CARVALHO-NIEBEL

Fernanda obtained her PhD diploma at the University of Ghent (Belgium), while working in the in lab of Genetics under the direction of Dirk Inzé & Marc Van Montagu. During her PhD she studied the regulation by stress of a plant pathogenesis-Related ß-1,3-glucanase gene and characterized one of the first cases of Post-Transcriptional Gene Silencing (PTGS) in plants resulting in dose-dependent co-suppression of homologous ß-1,3-glucanase genes. As an EMBO post-doctoral fellow, she joined the group of P. Gamas/J. Cullimore at the LIPM to identify genes expressed during early stages of the rhizobial root nodule symbiosis using the model legume Medicago truncatula. During this period, and shortly after as a CNRS researcher, Fernanda characterized new Medigaco genes induced by purified bacterial secreted Nod factor signals, and developed promoter functional studies and tissue-specific yeast-based approaches to identify promoter cis-sequences and underlying symbiotic transcription factors regulating symbiotic host gene regulation. She has in particular characterized a new group of symbiotic ERF transcription factors that in a tissue-specific manner regulate host symbiotic signalling programs. She is currently interested in deciphering these spatio-temporal signalling programs by using adapted molecular and in vivo strategies. Fernanda is now group leader of the Endosymbiotic infection and nodule development (ENOD) team together with Andreas Niebel.

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Dr. Andreas Niebel, DR2 CNRS, co-group leader

Andreas NIEBEL

Andreas obtained his PhD at the University of Ghent in 1994 in the Lab of Marc van Montagu under the supervision of Dirk Inzé and Godelieve Gheysen. His research project involved identifying and characterizing genes such as the cell cycle regulator gene cdc2a, which are expressed in the giant feeding cells elicited in roots of potato, tobacco and Arabidopsis by plant endoparasitic nematodes. As an EMBO postdoctoral fellow he then moved to the LIPM to work on the legume-Rhizobium symbiotic interaction, where he was subsequently recruited by the CNRS (CR2). Andreas initially studied rhizobial Nod factor perception using biochemical and molecular approaches in the group of Julie Cullimore. In 2000, he joined the group of Pascal Gamas and contributed to the study of the symbiotic transcriptome of Medicago truncatula, especially during early steps of this symbiotic interaction. As a member of the Barker-Gamas team he is particularly interested in a group of transcription factors belonging to the CCAAT-box binding factor family, also known as HAP (Heme activating protein) that act as key regulators of rhizobial infection and nodule development and possibly also Nod factor signal transduction. In addition he also studies the symbiotic microtranscriptome and in particular several microRNAs that control early symbiotic signaling and/or nodule development. Andreas is now group leader of the Endosymbiotic infection and nodule development (ENOD) team together with Fernanda de Carvalho-Niebel.

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Dr. David Barker, DR2 INRA

David BARKER

After obtaining his PhD at Imperial College, London, studying the structure and functional specificity of key components of protein synthesis, the aminoacyl tRNA synthetases, David obtained an EMBO fellowship to continue research in this field at the CNRS Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Strasbourg. David then obtained a junior scientist position (4 years) at the National Institute of Medical Research, London, studying the cell-cycle regulation of DNA ligase genes in both budding and fission yeasts. After a 1-year post-doc at the LIPM, David was recruited by INRA (1987) with the objective of identifying novel plant genes expressed during the early stages of the root symbiosis between legume plants and nitrogen-fixing rhizobia. During this period David also contributed with other colleagues at the LIPM to the establishment of Medicago truncatula as a model legume, and to the development of parallel studies on the important arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. David's current research interests are focused on understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying plant-microbe signaling and the unique processes of transcellular host infection which characterize the endosymbiotic associations involving both rhizobia and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.

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Dr. Pascal Gamas, DR1 CNRS

Pascal GAMAS

The first seven years of Pascal’s scientific career were devoted to studies on bacterial transposable elements. His PhD (Michael Chandler’s lab, Toulouse University), focused on the insertion sequence IS1, after which he was recruited by the CNRS (CR2) in 1986. He then studied the transposon Tn7 as a post-doc in Nancy L. Craig’s lab at the University of California, San Francisco, USA. Returning to France, Pascal switched to plant biology to work on the Rhizobium-legume symbiosis. He joined  Julie Cullimore’s group at the LIPM in 1990 (co-PI from 1997 to 2007) in order to develop global approaches aimed at identifying Medicago truncatula genes transcriptionally activated by Sinorhizobium meliloti or purified rhizobial Nod factors. He thus established with co-workers a collection of transcriptomics tools in M. truncatula, including standard cDNA sequencing, differential display analysis, subtractive probes or libraries, macro and microarrays and most recently RNA-seq approaches. Pascal is particularly interested in identifying and characterizing transcriptional regulators, notably transcription factors that control early to late nodulation stages, as well as their regulation networks. Pascal was the LIPM Director from 2003 to 2010.

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Dr. Joëlle Fournier, CR1 CNRS

Joëlle FOURNIER

During her PhD at Toulouse University, Joëlle worked on the role of lipoxygenases in defense responses of tobacco upon infection by the oomycete Phytophthora parasitica in the group of Marie-Thérèse Esquerré-Tugayé. She joined the CNRS in 1992 to continue her work in this group on the participation of lipoxygenases and the oxylipin pathway in plant defense and resistance against pathogens. In 2005, Joëlle moved to the field of symbiotic plant-microbe interactions in David Barker’s group, where she initiated a project on the cellular mechanisms and dynamics associated with the initial stages of Medicago truncatula root entry by the N-fixing endosymbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti. Rhizobial infection involves the de novo formation of apoplastic compartments called infection threads which host the microsymbiont. Joëlle has developed in vivo approaches for time-lapse studies on infection thread formation in root hairs using laser confocal microscopy associated with ER- or PM-targeted fluorescent markers and fluorescent S. meliloti strains. Her current research is focused on the dynamics of cell wall deposition/modification at infection initiation sites and she is also involved in studies of the in vivo spatio-temporal dynamics of early nodulins during endosymbiotic interface construction.

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Dr. M-Françoise Jardinaud, MCF ENSAT-INPT

Marie-Françoise JARDINAUD

Françoise obtained her PhD at the Graduate School of Life Sciences of Toulouse in 1994 in the Biotechnology and Plant Improvement Department under the supervision of André Souvré and Gilbert Alibert. She developed new methods for genetic transformation of Brassica and maize microspores. She then moved to CSIRO (Plant Industry, Canberra Australia) where she worked from 1994 to 1995 as post doctoral fellow on the Arabidopsis thaliana flowering gene FLF in Liz Denis’ lab. In 1996, she initiated a new research program funded by the “Australian Rice Growers company” aimed at increasing the iron content of rice seeds. In 2000, she was recruited by CIMMYT (El Batan, Mexico DF) as an associate scientist to study maize drought tolerance in Jean Marcel Ribaut’s group. In 2001, she returned to France after being recruited as an associate professor by the Graduate School of Life Sciences of Toulouse. Françoise first worked on the molecular characterization of sunflower embryogenesis in the Biotechnology and Plant Improvement Department. In 2005, her interest shifted to plant-microbe interactions and in particular the association between the soil-born pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum and Medicago truncatula. Françoise focused her research activities on the relationships between symbiotic and pathogenic plant-microbe interactions. She then joined the Barker-Gamas team in 2009 to work on transcriptional regulators common to both symbiotic and pathogenic interactions.

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Sandra Moreau, IE2 CNRS

Sandra MOREAU

Sandra obtained a Masters degree in Plant Biotechnology at the Paris 7 University in 2001. She worked for one year at INRA Versailles in Loïc Lepiniec’s lab, studying seed transcription factors, and then for 18 months at the URGV (Plant Genomics Research), Evry, on positional cloning projects. Sandra was recruited by the CNRS in 2004, and joined P. Gamas’ group at the LIPM where she was in charge of transcriptomics approaches in Medicago truncatula. She notably established microarray analyses (in collaboration with H. Küster, Bielefeld University, Germany), Affymetrix chip analyses (in collaboration with S. Balzergue, URGV Evry), large scale quantitative RT-PCR analyses on 384 plates (using the Toulouse Genopole facilities). Sandra is also involved in the functional characterization of symbiotic transcription factors using molecular and reverse genetics approaches, under P. Gamas’ supervision. Her current projects include the characterization of the efd-1 mutant in symbiotic and pathogenic interactions (with M-F. Jardinaud) and the identification of EFD binding sites on DNA (with F. de Carvalho-Niebel).

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Lisa Frances, TCN INRA

Lisa FRANCES

In 1999, Lisa obtained a two-year bioengineering University diploma in Agronomy (DUT) at the Technological University Institute in Perpignan and in 2000 a Plant Biotechnology degree at ENFA/Paul Sabatier University. Lisa then worked as a technician in the molecular biology laboratories of BIOGEMMA Biotech Company (Clermont-Ferrand, France) and RAGT GENETIQUE (Rodez, France). Lisa was recruited as a technician by INRA in 2005 and joined the LIPM to take charge of the DNA sequencing service of the laboratory. Lisa also joined the Barker-Gamas team to work on the research project run by Fernanda de Carvalho-Niebel on the functional characterization of ERN transcription factors. Lisa is involved in different aspects of this research project but has particularly contributed to the study of the transcription properties of ERN factors using both N. benthamiana- and M. truncatula-based  assays, and to the study of protein interactions using yeast two-hybrid and BiFC approaches.

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Agnès Lepage, TCE CNRS

Agnès joined the CNRS in 1990. She first worked in the Lab of Cell Physiology in Paris attempting to identify a vaccine against the HIV virus. In 1992 she joined the Institut Jacques Monod (Paris) where she was in charge of the production and microinjection of different animal cell cultures. In 1996 she moved to Toulouse where she joined the Centre for Developmental Biology (CBD) and developed her skills in molecular biology and cytology studying Drosophila melanogaster development. In 2007 she joined the Barker-Gamas team at the LIPM where she studies the role of HAP (CCAAT-box binding factor) transcription factors during the legume-Rhizobium symbiosis under the direction of Andreas Niebel.

Carolina Ripodas, Post Doctoral Fellow

Carolina Ripodas

Carolina obtained her PhD in 2015 in the group of Maria Eugenia Zanetti and Flavio Blanco at the Institute of Biotechnology and Molecular Biology of the National University of La Plata – Argentina. Her research focused on the characterization of NF-Y and GRAS transcription factors during the symbiotic association between Phaseolus vulgaris and Rhizobium etli. In the context of an ANR project entitled “NODCCAAT”, obtained by Andreas Niebel she joined the group of David Barker/Pascal Gamas in April 2016. In addition Carolina has been awarded with an AgreenSkills (INRA) fellowship. She initiated a postdoctoral project to thoroughly understand the mode of action of NF-Y transcription factors during nodule development in the model plant Medicago truncatula.

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Maria-Fernanda Guerrero-Molina, Post Doctoral Fellow

Maria-Fernanda obtained her PhD work at the National University of Tucumán, Argentina, under the supervision of Dr. Raúl Pedraza and Dr. Juan Díaz-Ricci.  Her PhD research was mainly focus on studying the biochemical and molecular signals involved in the colonization of strawberry (Fragaria ananassa) by the plant growth-promotbenthacteriahe GwR) Azospirillum brasilense. In 2014, she did her first Post-doc at INSIBIO (CONICET-UNT) focused on ethylene signaling involved in defense responses induced by the fungal elicitor AsES and A. brasilense on strawberry plants. In 2016, she joined the group of Fernanda De-Carvalho, as a Post-doc, to study Medicago truncatula gene transcription networks associated with early stages of rhizobial infection.

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Yann Pecrix, Post Doctoral Fellow

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Audrey Kelner, PhD Student

Audrey obtained a Master’s degree in June 2015 in plant science from the University of Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier. She joined the ENOD group in January 2015 for her Master's training and has, since October 2015 initiated her PhD thesis under the supervision of Fernanda de Carvalho-Niebel. By combining cuttben-edge microscopy and genetic approaches she is investigating the real-time dynamics of nuclear signaling in plant cells undergoing symbiotic bacterial infection. By focusing on the key ERF transcription factor ERN1, Audrey is currently investigating its interconnection with other nuclear components during the reprogramming of host cells for endosymbiotic infection.

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