Horticultural Genetics and Biotechnology

Lab

Research

The laboratory of Horticultural Genetics and Biotechnology serves a dual role:

  • Hosts the Research Personnel of the Department of Horticultural Genetics and Biotechnology and post-graduate students which focus on the research topics shown below.
  • Provides laboratory services for quality analyses (ISO/IEC 17025) in GMO testing in agrofood products, animal feed, fish food, olive oil and their products and any other product made of or consist of Soya, maize, cotton etc .

The main activities of the department involve research

  • Olive genomics and transcriptomics

    Olive (Olea europaea L.) cultivation is rapidly expanding and low quality saline water is often used for irrigation. The molecular basis of salt tolerance in olive, though, has not yet been investigated at a system level. In this study a comparative transcriptomics approach was used as a tool to unravel gene regulatory networks underlying salinity response in olive trees by simulating as much as possible olive growing conditions in the field. Specifically, we investigated the genotype-dependent differences in the transcriptome response of two olive cultivars, a salt-tolerant and a salt-sensitive one. The long term objective of this project is the development of molecular tools in order to screen olive germplasm for salt tolerant olive clones in commercial olive varieties.


    Gene regulatory network in response to salinity in the olive cultivar Chondrolia Chalkidikis

    Bazakos et al., (2012) PlosOne
     
  • Role of prolyl 4 hydroxylases in tomato and Arabidopsis growth and development

    P4Hs belong to 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases (2-ODDs) and catalyze the formation of 4-hydroxyproline requiring 2-oxoglutarate and O2 as cosubstrates, Fe2+ as a cofactor and ascorbate for optimal activity. The S. lycopersicum genome comprises ten putative P4H polypeptides that share high identity with the Arabidopsis and carnation P4Hs at the amino acid level. The physiological role of tomato P4Hs in tomato growth and development was investigated using a reverse genetics approach such as the TRV-mediated Virus Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS). The results suggest that silencing of SlP4Hs affects leaf epidermal cell expansion and cell division.

     

  • Arabidopsis genetics and molecular basis of abiotic stress response such as hypoxia

    In Arabidopsis there are 13 P4Hs genes while several of them are differentially expressed during abiotic stress. We investigate the role of Arabidopsis P4Hs in response to anoxia using P4H knock out and overexpression lines. The knock out and overexpression lines exhibited lower and higher survival rates compared to the wild type, respectively. The molecular basis of this response was investigated by monitoring the enzymatic activity as well as the gene expression levels of the fermentation pathway. In addition, the expression of hypoxia-related genes such as HRE1, HRE2, SUS1 and SUS4 was determined. Western blot analysis revealed alterations in the content of AGP-bound epitopes during hypoxia and anoxia while the physical interaction of P4Hs with several AGP proteins which are up-regulated under hypoxia and anoxia was demonstrated.

    Spatial visualization of an Arabidopsis P4H promoter activity under anoxia. Seven-day-old seedlings were subjected to 6h anoxia
     
  • Regulation of tomato fruit ripening and Arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs)

    Arabinogalactan proteins (AGPs) are highly glycosylated members of the superfamily of hydroxyproline rich glycoproteins (HRGPs). Despite their implication in many aspects of plant growth and development little is known about their role in tomato fruit ripening (Solanum lycopersicum) and their response to abiotic stress in tomato fruits. A search of the currently available tomato genome database resulted in the identification of 34 genes encoding putative AGPs, with at least 20 of them being expressed in fruit. We investigated the effect of Pyridine 2,4-dicarboxylate (PDCA) on the expression of AGPs in response to mechanical wounding. PDCA partially suppressed the expression of JIM8 epitope bound AGPs within 3 hours of wounding indicating involvement on their regulation.

    Fragostefanakis et al., (2013). J. Plant Growth Reg.

    Fragostefanakis et al., (2012). Plant Phys. and Bioch

    PDCA alters the AGP profile of excised pericarp discs in response to mechanical wounding

     

  • Flower senescence and P4Hs

    P4Hs belong to 2-oxoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases (2-ODDs) and catalyze the formation of 4-hydroxyproline requiring 2-oxoglutarate and O2 as cosubstrates, Fe2+ as a cofactor and ascorbate for optimal activity. We identified Pyridine 2,4-dicarboxylate (PDCA) as a potent inhibitor of the in vitro enzyme activity of two carnation P4Hs and used it to determine whether inhibition of proline hydroxylation in petals is involved in senescence progression of cut carnation flowers. PDCA suppressed the climacteric ethylene production indicating a strong correlation between the inhibition of DcP4H1 and DcP4H2 activity in vitro by PDCA and the suppression of climacteric ethylene production in cut carnation flowers.

    Structural similarity of Pyridine 2,4-dicarboxylate
    to 2-oxoglutarate (green)

    Vlad et al., (2010). Physiol. Plantarum


  • Agrofood forensics and development of biotechnological methodologies for authenticity and traceability
  • Genetic diversity assessment of horticultural crops

The premises are equipped with Genetic analyzer, RT–PCR, GC, Thermal Cycler, Spectrophotometer, Nanophotometer, Digital Electrophoresis Documentation and Analysis System Ultra Pure Water System, Automatic Tissue Processor, Paraffin Embedding Station, Cooling Plate, Microtome, In-Situ PCR System, Hybridization Oven, Autoclave, Refrigerated Centrifuges, Microcentrifuges, Deep Freezers PCR Work station, Laminar Flow Hood, Plant Growth Chamber, CO2 and O2 Analyzer. The laboratory equipments also comprises pH meter, Electrophoresis systems for nucleic acids and proteins, Gel dryer, Water bath, Electronic balances, Shaking incubators, Incubator, Vortex, Hot plate magnetic stirrer, Freezers and Refrigerator.

The Department has received and/ or receives funding from the following programs so far:

  1. Expanding the adaptation and production area of rubus in Europe (Financed by EU DGVI)
  2. Quality greenhouse management and control (Financed by EU DGVI)
  3. Cooperation network: Preservation and quality management of marginally-utilized orticultural commodities in the mediterranean region (Financed by European Union, DG I)
  4. Introduction of promising native ornamental species to the european market, adapted to low water availability and saline conditions (Financed by EU DG VI)
  5. Certification of transgenic agricultural products used in food industry (Financed by General Secretariat for Research and Technology, Business Projects for Research and Technology, EPET II)
  6. Cloning and in situ determination of the expression of hydrolases contributing to leaf abscission and nut opening in cotton (Financed by General Secretariat for Research and Technology, PENED)
  7. Quality greenhouse management and control (Financed by EU DG VI)
  8. Cooperation network: Preservation and quality management of marginally-utilized orticultural commodities in the mediterranean region (Financed by European Union, DG I)
  9. Introduction of promising native ornamental species to the european market, adapted to low water availability and saline conditions (Financed by EU DG VI)
  10. EU Research project: Expanding the adaptation and production area of rubus in Europe (Financed by EU DG VI)
  11. EU Research project: Quality greenhouse management and control (Financed by EU DG VI)
  12. Cooperation network: Preservation and quality management of marginally-utilized horticultural commodities in the mediterranean region (Financed by European Union, DG I)
  13. Introduction of promising native ornamental species to the european market, adapted to low water availability and saline conditions (Financed by EU DG VI)
  14. Cloning and in-situ determination of gene expression of cell wall hydrolases contributing to leaf abscission and nut opening in cotton (Financed by General Secretariat for Research and Technology, PENED)
  15. Detection of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in raw and processed agricultural products (Financed by General Secretariat for Research and Technology, Business Projects for Research and Technology, EPET II)
  16. Transborder Action for the Conservation of Regional Agrobiodiversity and Valorisation of the Identifiable Product Differentiation/(FARVALDI) (Financed by European Funds for Regional Development, INTERREG III C-South)
  17. Accreditation of the laboratory of Plant Biotechnology & GMO testing according to ENI7025 standard for the qualitative detection of GMO in tomato and wheat (Financed by EU/GR COMPETITIVE Ministry of Development)
  18. Use of SNPs and SSRs for Genetic Diversity Assessment within Cultivated Olive Germplasm from Western Balkan Countries (Financed by European Union, SEE – ERA. NET Pilot Joint Call)
  19. Development of Biotechnological Methodology for the detection of sesame allergen proteins in foods (Financed by General Secretariat for Research and Technology, Greece)
  20. Development of Biotechnological Methodology for the Identification of Varietal Origin of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Olive Oil (Financed by General Secretariat for Research and Technology, Greece)
  21. Life project: LIFE+ Nature & Biodiversity “CENTOLIMED” “Identification and conservation of the high nature value of ancient olive groves in the Mediterranean region” (Financed by European Union)
  22. Innovation Centre of Crete: Management Improvement and Efficient Use of Natural Resources in Selected, Sensitive Areas – Sub-project: “Pilot Development of a DNA-Based Methodology for the Identification of the Varietal Origin of Olive Oil – Production of a Diagnostic Test” (Financed by European Economic Area)
  23. Research Project SYNERGASIA: Optimization of environment control in protected crops for salinity management using –omics technologies (Financed by ESPA, Action at National Level, Cooperation - SYNERGASIA)

Last update: Sep 16, 2014

Horticultural Genetics and Biotechnology