A l'UM la science [S01-ep20]: From plant immunity to X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy

This week Thomas Kroj, biologist at PHIMs biologist, describes his study on stimulating the natural immunity of plants, published in Nature Communications. In the second half of the program, Julien Fullenwarth from theICGM explains X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy.

Herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, or in their softer version "phytosanitary products". Synthetic pesticides first appeared on the world agricultural scene in the 1930s. The rest of the story is well known: their use became more widespread as the population grew and agriculture intensified. Criticism soon followed, and scientific studies have continued to demonstrate the dangers of pesticides for both human health and biodiversity.

Yet combating the use of pesticides is no simple matter. Our population continues to grow, and with it our food requirements. And while organic produce is making headway on our plates, it's still a long way from winning over food industry professionals.

So how can we protect crops from disease, while ensuring good agricultural production? That's what's at stake in the agricultural transition our societies must make to meet the food challenges of tomorrow.

Faced with this challenge, science obviously has a role to play, as demonstrated by this study carried out by a Montpellier-based team of researchers from INRAE, CNRS and Inserm. They looked at rice and found that this plant was capable of tricking pathogens and stimulating its immune response by using a decoy. All that remained was to draw inspiration from this method to boost plant genomes and observe the promising results published last March in the prestigious journal Nature communications.

Our guest is Thomas Kroj, a biologist at PHIM (Plant Health Institute Montpellier).

In the second half of the show, we take you to the Institut Charles Gerhardt Montpellier. If, like me, X-rays and gamma rays inevitably conjure up images of the Marvel universe, then our superhero of the day is Julien Fullenwarth. He's an engineer, and in his everyday life he analyzes materials using X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy on the X-ray and Gamma-ray Network platform.

At UM la science you've got the program, here we go!

Production: Université de Montpellier/Divergence FM
Animation : Lucie Lecherbonnier
Aline Périault/Lucie Lecherbonnier
Reporting and editing: Lucie Lecherbonnier
Anna Demeulandre

Listen to the "A LUM LA SCIENCE" program on Divergence FM 93.9

UM podcasts are now available on your favorite platforms (Spotify, Deezer, Apple podcasts, Amazon Music...).