English-Video.net comment policy

The comment field is common to all languages

Let's write in your language and use "Google Translate" together

Please refer to informative community guidelines on TED.com

TEDGlobal 2017

Mennat El Ghalid: How fungi recognize (and infect) plants

Filmed
Views 391,165

Each year, the world loses enough food to feed half a billion people to fungi, the most destructive pathogens of plants. Mycologist and TED Fellow Mennat El Ghalid explains how a breakthrough in our understanding of the molecular signals fungi use to attack plants could disrupt this interaction -- and save our crops.

- Mycologist
Mennat El Ghalid research aims to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying fungal biology and pathogenicity. Full bio

"Will the blight end the chestnut?
00:12
The farmers rather guess not.
00:15
It keeps smouldering at the roots
00:17
And sending up new shoots
00:20
Till another parasite
00:22
Shall come to end the blight."
00:23
At the beginning of the 20th century,
00:28
the eastern American chestnut population,
counting nearly four billion trees,
00:30
was completely decimated
by a fungal infection.
00:35
Fungi are the most destructive
pathogens of plants,
00:38
including crops of major
economic importance.
00:41
Can you imagine that today,
00:44
crop losses associated
with fungal infection
00:46
are estimated at billions of dollars
per year, worldwide?
00:49
That represents enough food calories
to feed half a billion people.
00:53
And this leads to severe repercussions,
00:57
including episodes of famine
in developing countries,
00:59
large reduction of income
for farmers and distributors,
01:03
high prices for consumers
01:06
and risk of exposure to mycotoxin,
poison produced by fungi.
01:08
The problems that we face
01:14
is that the current method
used to prevent and treat
01:15
those dreadful diseases,
01:18
such as genetic control,
exploiting natural sources of resistance,
01:19
crop rotation or seed
treatment, among others,
01:24
are still limited or ephemeral.
01:27
They have to be constantly renewed.
01:30
Therefore, we urgently need
to develop more efficient strategies
01:33
and for this, research is required
to identify biological mechanisms
01:37
that can be targeted
by novel antifungal treatments.
01:42
One feature of fungi
is that they cannot move
01:49
and only grow by extension
to form a sophisticated network,
01:52
the mycelium.
01:56
In 1884, Anton de Bary,
the father of plant pathology,
01:58
was the first to presume
that fungi are guided by signals
02:02
sent out from the host plant,
02:06
meaning a plant upon which
it can lodge and subsist,
02:08
so signals act as a lighthouse
02:12
for fungi to locate, grow toward, reach
02:14
and finally invade and colonize a plant.
02:19
He knew that the identification
of such signals
02:23
would unlock a great knowledge
that then serves to elaborate strategy
02:26
to block the interaction
between the fungus and the plant.
02:31
However, the lack of an appropriate
method at that moment
02:34
prevented him from identifying
this mechanism at the molecular level.
02:38
Using purification and mutational
genomic approaches,
02:45
as well as a technique
02:48
allowing the measurement
of directed hyphal growth,
02:50
today I'm glad to tell you
that after 130 years,
02:53
my former team and I
could finally identify such plant signals
02:57
by studying the interaction
between a pathogenic fungus
03:02
called Fusarium oxysporum
03:05
and one of its host plants,
the tomato plant.
03:07
As well, we could characterize
03:12
the fungal receptor
receiving those signals
03:14
and part of the underlying reaction
occurring within the fungus
03:17
and leading to its direct growth
toward the plant.
03:20
(Applause)
03:24
Thank you.
03:27
(Applause)
03:28
The understanding
of such molecular processes
03:30
offers a panel of potential molecules
03:32
that can be used to create
novel antifungal treatments.
03:35
And those treatments would disrupt
03:39
the interaction between
the fungus and the plant
03:42
either by blocking the plant signal
03:44
or the fungal reception system
which receives those signals.
03:47
Fungal infections have devastated
agriculture crops.
03:51
Moreover, we are now in an era
03:55
where the demand of crop production
is increasing significantly.
03:57
And this is due to population growth,
economic development,
04:01
climate change and demand for bio fuels.
04:05
Our understanding
of the molecular mechanism
04:08
of interaction between
a fungus and its host plant,
04:11
such as the tomato plant,
04:14
potentially represents a major step
towards developing more efficient strategy
04:16
to combat plant fungal diseases
04:21
and therefore solving of problems
that affect people's lives,
04:24
food security and economic growth.
04:27
Thank you.
04:30
(Applause)
04:31

▲Back to top

About the speaker:

Mennat El Ghalid - Mycologist
Mennat El Ghalid research aims to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying fungal biology and pathogenicity.

Why you should listen

Mycologist Mennat El Ghalid received an Initial Training Networks - Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship to pursue her PhD project in the Molecular Genetics of Fungal Pathogenicity Unit and the International Campus of Excellence in Agrifood CeiA3 at the Universidad de Cordoba (Spain). During her PhD, her former team and herself identified the compounds secreted from the plant roots attracting Fusarium oxysporum, a soilborne plant pathogenic fungus and characterized the underlying mechanisms of attraction. Such compounds were tracked since the 19th century. The discovery was published in the Nature Journal.

El Ghalid became a TED Fellow in 2017 and have been selected as one of the 100 women honorees for OkayAfrica's 2018 #OKAY100Women list for her dedicated work and for being a promising talent within the field of STEM. She is currently working at Institut Pasteur (France) in the Biology and Pathogenicity Unit to study Candida albicans, an opportunistic pathogenic fungus and the main cause of fungal infections in immunocompromised humans.

More profile about the speaker
Mennat El Ghalid | Speaker | TED.com