Our research aims at understanding the molecular mechanisms enabling the root pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum to promote disease on a wide array of host plants. Ralstonia solanacearum is probably one of the most destructive plant pathogenic bacterium worldwide, infecting 200 plant species in over 50 families, including major crops such as tomato, potato but also peanut and banana. Owing to the fact that several model plants are also hosts (Arabidopsis, Tomato, Medicago) the mechanisms involved in this plant-pathogen interaction are getting better understood
We developed genetic and genomic approaches on the model R. solanacearum strain GMI1000 to identify essential pathogenicity determinants such as the Type 3 protein secretion system. This secretion system,present in many pathogenic bacteria is a sophisticated tool allowing the pathogen to manipulate eukaryotic host cells with the direct transport of bacterial virulence proteins (effectors) into the host cells. We have identified more than seventy effectors in R. solanacearum. The molecular activities of most of these effectors are still unknown and representing an exciting prospect in order to better understand the underlying mechanisms of this disease.
Recently, we also developed an experimental evolution approach aimed to unravel the molecular bases of the adaptation of this bacterium to different plants.