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Laboratory of Plant-Microbe Interactions - LIPM

Laboratory of Plant-Microbe Interactions

Members - Responses to stress and environmental signals in rhizobia

Claude Bruand, Directeur de Recherches INRA


After a Master degree obtained at Institut Pasteur-Université Paris 7, Claude started his thesis at the Institut Jacques Monod (Paris) with L. Jannière and S.D. Ehrlich, on the relationship between DNA structural stability and DNA replication. He obtained his PhD in Biochemistry-Microbiology at in 1991, and was then recruited as Chargé de Recherche at INRA (Jouy-en-Josas) where he characterized plasmid DNA replication in gram positive bacteria. In 1996, he took with P. Polard the joint supervision of a research group focusing on proteins involved in DNA replication in Bacillus subtilis. In 2001, he moved to the LIPM in J. Batut’s group to contribute to the development of Sinorhizobium meliloti transcriptomics, and its use to analyse global changes of bacterial gene expression during symbiosis with Medicago plants. In 2005, he joined F. de Bruijn and his interests shifted to stress responses in rhizobia, which are now the main topics of the group he is supervising since 2006. Since the begining of 2016 Claude Bruand is heading the LIPM.


Eliane Meilhoc, Maître de Conférences INSA


Eliane did her PhD at the “Centre d’Etudes Nucléaires” (CEN-CEA), in Grenoble, France, where she worked on the differentiation of mouse erythroleukemia cells (Dr. M. Chabre’s group). She spent 2 years as a post-doc in Pr. J.E Bailey’s group in the Biochemical Engineering Department at CalTech (California Institute of Technology –Pasadena-USA) initiating a work on mammalian cell culture in bioreactors. In 1988, she was recruited as an Assistant Professor at the “Institut National des Sciences Appliquées” (INSA) in Toulouse where she is still teaching genetic engineering and cell culture technology. Her research work was carried out in Pr. J.M. Masson’s group (Institut de Pharmacologie et de Biologie Structurale, IPBS, Toulouse and focused on production of recombinant proteins in Yeasts: i.e. human mu-opioid receptor expression and characterization in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, development of a new non-Saccharomyces yeast host system (Schwanniomyces occidentalis). She joined the LIPM in 2001 to work on genomics of nitrogen fixation in the model Rhizobium: Sinorhizobium meliloti. More recently (2006) she focused on the bacterial response to nitric oxide (NO) and on the role of this response in the symbiosis between S. meliloti and the model legume M. truncatula.


Magalie Pichon, Chargée de Recherches INRA

Magalie PICHON

In 1993, Magalie obtained a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology of Plants (University Paris XI Orsay). Her thesis work focused on the study of nodulins involved in the early stages of the Sinorhizobium meliloti / Medicago truncatula interaction (D. Barker’s Team, INRA Toulouse). Since her recruitement at INRA in 1994, her main research topic was to study and modulate the expression of genes involved in the lignin biosynthetic pathway in maize in the context of improving forage digestibility (D. Goffner’s Team, UMR 5546). She moved to the LIPM in 2011 and became interested in the responses of sunflower to Plasmopara halstedii, the causal agent of downy mildew. Recently, she joined Claude Bruand’s team to study the role of nitric oxide (NO) in the early stages of the Sinorhizobium meliloti / Medicago truncatula interaction.


Frans J. de Bruijn,  Directeur de Recherches INRA


Frans did his thesis work at Harvard University with Prof. Fred Ausubel on the regulation of nitrogen-fixation and nitrogen assimilation in the diazotroph Klebsiella pneumoniae, and in 1983 obtained an EMBO Fellowship to carry out Postdoctoral work in the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding in Koeln with the late Prof. Jeff Schell on nitrogen assimilation genes in Sinorhizobium meliloti, Agrobacterium tumefaciens and Azorhizobium caulinodans. After two years he was appointed Group leader and while continuing his rhizobial studies, he started to work on nodulin genes of Sesbania rostrata (host of A. caulinodans) and their regulation in transgenic Lotus corniculatus plants. He was also involved in the elucidation of the S. meliloti rhizopine synthesis and catabolism genes: the biased rhizosphere concept. He became Assistant Director to Jeff Schell in 1986. In 1990 he moved to the Plant Research Laboratory (PRL) and the NSF Center for Microbial Ecology (CME) at Michigan State University, led by Prof. Jim Tiedje, and he became MSU Professor of Microbiology in 1995. At MSU he continued and developed various lines of research on the model Legume Lotus japonicus, in collaboration with Prof. Jens Stougaard in Aarhus DK, and in the area of molecular microbial ecology, including bacterial fingerprinting, marker and reporter genes, rhizosphere colonization and stress-induced gene expression in S. meliloti. In 2000 he moved to the LIPM in Toulouse and served as Director of the Unit for two years, after which he returned to research. He has continued his interest in the response of S. meliloti to stress conditions. Presently, he is also interested in the role aminoacids play in Legume nodulation and nitrogen fixation in collaboration with Prof. Silvia Rossbach of Western Michigan University. Since 2009 he has served as Editor for a two volume Book on Molecular Microbial Ecology and Metagenomics.


Benjamin Gourion, Chargé de Recherches CNRS

GOURION Benjamin

Benjamin Gourion is microbiologist by education. During a Master II he became specialized in Plant-Microbe Interactions and joined for a Master thesis the group of Julia Vorholt in the LIPM. He continued his work in the Vorholt lab during a PhD thesis in the LIPM and then in the Institute for Microbiology (ETH Zurich). During his PhD work, Benjamin studied the phyllospheric bacterium Methylobacterium extorquens and identified a key regulatory protein (PhyR) required for the bacterial fitness in the phyllosphere and also for the general stress response. After his PhD defense, Benjamin continued to study the PhyR regulatory cascade in the frame of a collaborative work together with the group of Hauke Hennecke and Hans-Martin Fischer (ETH Zurich). During this post doc Benjamin showed that the PhyR signaling cascade is important for efficient symbiotic interaction between the soybean and its bacterial symbiotic partner. In 2008 Benjamin obtained an EMBO fellowship, quitted Switzerland and came back in France to join the group of Eric Giraud (LSTM, IRD, Montpellier). There Benjamin studied metabolic aspects of the rhizobium/legume symbiosis. He got hired by the CNRS in 2010, joined the group of Pascal Ratet (ISV, Gif sur Yvette), switched his focus from rhizobia to legume and studied the plant tolerance to rhizobia. In 2015, Benjamin joined Claude Bruand group in the LIPM and is now comparing the defense and senescence processes in legume nodules. In addition, Benjamin projects to identify some bacterial traits delaying, or preventing, defenses and senescence in the nodules.


Laurent Sauviac, Assistant Ingénieur INRA


Laurent joined the LIPM in 1999. He worked during five years on plant –pathogenic bacteria interactions before joining Claude Bruand’s group in 2005 where he is now working on the general stress response of S. meliloti. Laurent is mainly involved in the study of ECF sigma factors and signaling cascades leading to bacterial stress responses.


Anne-Claire Cazalé, Ingénieur de Recherches INRA

CAZALE Anne-Claire

Anne-Claire has studied signalisation (reactive oxygen species production and protein kinases) in plants in response to abiotic stress during her PhD at the ISV (CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France) and during her post-doc at the MPIZ (Koeln, Germany). She analyzed the heavy metal tolerance during two post-docs at the Leibniz-IPB (Halle/Saale, Germany) and at CEA Cadarache (France). At CEA Cadarache, she also studied the regulation of the alternative photosynthetic electron transfer pathway. She joined the LIPM in 2007 to contribute to the characterization of the type III effectors from Ralstoniasolanacearum in the team of Stéphane Genin. Since 2015, she joined the team of Claude Bruand to participate in the elucidation of the roles of nitric oxide (NO) in the Medicago truncatula-Sinorhizobium meliloti symbiotic interaction. Especially, Anne-Claire studies the protein post-translational modifications induced by NO.


Antoine Rémy, Engineer

Antoine Rémi

Antoine obtained in 2015 a Master Degree in Biochemistry and Biotechnology from the University Paul Sabatier in Toulouse. In 2016, he joined group of Claude Bruand in the LIPM to work on the Staypink ANR project « Mecanisms controlling the transition between nitrogen fixation and senescence in legume symbiotic nodules”.


Alexandre Le-Scornet, Engineer

Le-Scornet Alexandre

Alexandre obtained his Master degree in Microbiology at the Paul Sabatier University of Toulouse in June 2016 after his graduation internship in the team. This Internship aimed at understanding the synthesis and the role of nitric oxide during the symbiosis between S. meliloti and the model legume M. truncatula. He was then hired to study the latter stage of the rhizobium-legume symbiosis .


Claire Benezech, PhD Student

Benezech 150 pi de haut

Claire performed her master study at the University of Montpellier, she joined the group to study the latter stages of the symbiotic process.

Eugénia Cernov, Master Student

IMG_1023 122 150

Eugénia Cernov joined our group in January 2017 to prepare a Master 2 thesis. She is studying microbiology at the University of Toulouse. Eugénia works on a collaborative project shared by the Bruand and the Gamas Groups.

Gaofei Jiang, Post doc

Gaofei J 122 150

From 2010-2012 at Southwest University (SWU), I did at Master of Entomology in Group of Chun Ran with the specific interest on P450 genes invoking pesticide resistance in citrus red mite. After four years studying on Microbiology, I obtained double Doctoral Degrees from SWU and University Paul Sabatier under co-supervision of Wei Ding and Nemo Peeters in 2016. My PhD work provided a holistic view on infection dynamics of plant bacterial pathogen through Ralstonia solanacearum-Tomato model. My first postdoc was started from the beginning of year 2017 in Group of Claude Bruand at LIPM. Together with Benjamin Gourion, I am contributing to understand the tradeoffs involved during rhizobium-legume interactions.​