Since the start of her degree in Agronomy, Dr Luna-Diez research interests have been driven by the exceptional ability of plants to adapt to hostile environments. From the start of her research career, she has investigated the molecular, genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that mark plant defence responses to diseases. Dr Luna-Diez has extensive experience in plant models and crops, such as Arabidopsis and tomato. Here at the University of Birmingham, she will also implement her work in forest tree pathology in association with BIFoR. At the moment, she is working in the following research projects:
- Exploiting the immune system to tackle emerging filamentous diseases
This project exploits the immune system of the tomato crop to enhance protection against emerging filamentous diseases. She will do this through priming the defence capacity of plants to prepare to respond faster and stronger against attackers. The ultimate goal of this project is to provide novel strategies that offer “one-step-ahead” solutions against the risks associated with devastating outbreaks of emerging diseases.
- The effect of priming agents in the protection of tomato harvest against grey mould
Tomato is a major crop world-wide and like other crops, substantial crop yields are lost to diseases. Grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) can cause the loss of over 50% of annual tomato crops. Novel technique development is essential to achieve a competent and eco-friendly tomato industry. Different priming agents are effective in inducing resistance against B. cinerea in tomato plants. However, little is known about whether these priming agents protects fruit from B. cinerea during tomato post-harvest storage. This project studies whether treatment of tomato plants with priming agents result in a long-lasting induced resistance against grey mould in tomato fruit.
- Understanding plant defence strategies in the arms race against Fusarium oxysporum
Fusarium oxysporum is a devastating soil-borne pathogen that provokes vascular wilt in over a hundred field and greenhouse-grown crops both in industrialized and developing countries. Current methods of control of F. oxysporum depend on the extensive use of chemical pesticides, which is increasingly regarded as unsustainable. This project exploits the tomato’s immune system to provide a powerful source for future Integrated Disease Management of vascular fusariosis.
Future directions in tree pathology. Dr Luna-Diez lectureship in Plant Pathology at the University of Birmingham is linked to the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research. From this position, she will develop cutting-edge research to provide novel strategies to secure tree resilience to diseases. BIFoR aims to address the impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands. For this, BIFoR has a Free Air CO2 Enritchment (FACE) experiment running in the woodlands of Staffordshire.
Researcher identifier numbers:
Scopus ID: 37098791700