Jonathan Gershenzon Which Chemical Traits Protect the Roots of Dandelions Against Insect Damage?

Jonathan Gershenzon is Director of the Department of Biochemistry at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology and Honorary Professor at Friedrich Schiller University, both Jena, Germany. Before joining the Max Planck Society, he worked as a scientist at the Institute for Biological Chemistry, Washington State University in Pullman. Gershenzon studies the biochemistry of plant defenses, focusing on two major groups: glucosinolates and terpenoids. In 2013, he was elected into the American Association for the Advancement of Science and listed as one of the Most Cited Authors in Plant Sciences in Europe by Lab Times.

Area of Research

Biochemistry

Jonathan Gershenzon. "Metabolic Costs of Terpenoid Accumulation in Higher Plants." Journal of Chemical Ecology 20 (1994): 1281-1328.  
Eran Pichersky and Jonathan Gershenzon. "The Formation and Function of Plant Volatiles: Perfumes for Pollinator Attraction and Defense." Current Opinion in Plant Biology 5 (2002): 237-243.  
Barbara Ann Halkier and Jonathan Gershenzon. "Biology and Biochemistry of Glucosinolates." Annual Review of Plant Biology 57 (2006): 303-333.  
Jonathan Gershenzon and Natalia Dudareva. "The Function of Terpene Natural Products in the Natural World." Nature Chemical Biology 3 (2007): 408-414.  

since 1997

Director

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

since 1999

Honorary Professor

Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena)

2005-2008

Managing Director

Max Planck Society (more details)

Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

1991-1996

Assistant Scientist

Washington State University

Institute of Biological Chemistry

1983-1984

Robert A. Welch Graduate Fellow

University of Texas

Department of Botany

1981-1982

Teaching Assistant

University of Texas

Department of Botany

1978-1980

National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow

University of Texas

1984

PhD in Botany

University of Texas, Austin

1977

Bachelor in Biology

University of California, Santa Cruz

Annals of Botany

Archives of Biochemistry & Biophysics

Biochemical Systematics & Ecology

Chemoecology

Ecology Lettters

European Journal of Biochemistry

FEBS Letters

Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry

Journal of Chemical Ecology

Nature

Nature Chemical Biology

Phytochemistry

Plant Cell

Plant Journal

Plant Molecular Biology

Plant Physiology

Plant Systematics & Evolution

Planta

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA

Science

Tree Physiology

American Society of Plant Biologists

International Society of Chemical Ecology

International Society of Plant Molecular Biology

Phytochemical Society of North America

Phytochemical Society of Europe

Fellowships

Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2013)

Elected Chair of Gordon Research Conference on Floral and Vegetative Volatiles (2012)

Robert A. Welch Fellowship, University of Texas (1982-1984)

National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship (3 Years) (1978)

Prizes

Listed as one of Most Cited Authors in Plant Sciences in Europe (2005-2011, Rank #10), Lab Times (2013)

Selected to Gordon Research Conference “Hall of Fame” for Organizing One of the Best 2012 Conferences (2012)

Ralph Alston Award to Outstanding Paper Presented at Annual Meetings of Phytochemical Section of Botanical Society of America (1984)

Phytochemical Society of North America Award to Outstanding Paper Presented by a Graduate Student (1984)

Professional Development Award, University of Texas (1982)

Sunflower Association of America Research Grant (1980)

Graduate Student Research Grants, University of Texas (1979, 1980)

© Maximilian Dörrbecker

Max Planck Society


"The Max Planck Society is Germany's most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at Max Planck Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field." (Source)

Institute

Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

"The Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena investigates the role, diversity and characteristics of chemical signals which control the interactions between organisms and their environment. Scientists from the fields of ecology, biochemistry, organic chemistry, entomology, ethology, and insect physiology work closely together in the Institute in order to understand the complex system of chemical communication. Their research focuses on the co-evolution of plants and insects. The fact that plants usually spend their entire lives in one place forces them to use effective strategies to guarantee that their offspring are spread and also to protect themselves against pests and diseases. To this effect, plants have developed a wide range of chemical signalling compounds that enable them to optimise their adaptation to their respective environments. These so-called allelochemicals are used to, among other things, attract pollinators, fend off herbivores and pests, fight diseases and keep unwelcome competitors away. Plants also synthesise mixtures of many organic substances that have a deterrent or toxic effect on herbivores. As a countermeasure, insects that feed on plants adapt accordingly and, for their part, try to overcome plant defences." (Source)

Map

Plants use certain chemical compounds to defend themselves against animals that feed on them. As JONATHAN GERSHENZON explains in this video, dandelions are a very good model to research the defences of plants because they are especially robust. The research team therefore investigated dandelions to identify the compound that protects the roots from being damaged by insects. They studied dandelions from different regions and with different levels of these particular compounds. In a next step they compared the amount of damage after exhibiting them to an insect that feeds on the roots. After altering the plant's production of this compound the researchers found that dandelions with reduced levels of the compound were fed on more heavily by this particular insect.

LT Video Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.21036/LTPUB10219

A Latex Metabolite Benefits Plant Fitness under Root Herbivore Attack

  • Meret Huber, Janina Epping, Christian Schulze Gronover, Julia Fricke, Zohra Aziz, Théo Brillatz, Michael Swyers, Tobias G. Köllner, Heiko Vogel, Almuth Hammerbacher, Daniella Triebwasser-Freese, Christelle A. M. Robert, Koen Verhoeven et al
  • PLoS Biology
  • Published in 2016

Chicago

Meret Huber, Janina Epping, Christian Schulze Gronover, Julia Fricke, Zohra Aziz, Théo Brillatz, Michael Swyers, Tobias G. Köllner, Heiko Vogel, Almuth Hammerbacher, Daniella Triebwasser-Freese, Christelle A. M. Robert, Koen Verhoeven et al. "A Latex Metabolite Benefits Plant Fitness under Root Herbivore Attack." PLoS Biology 14 (2016): e1002332.