Talk by Radhika Venkatesan
Title: "Chemical chronicles: Decoding plant-insect interactions and unveiling therapeutic potentials"
Occasion: SFB Special Seminar
Host: Christian Kost
Start: 02.06.2023 - 14:00 Uhr
Location: CellNanOs, 38/201
About the speaker: Radhika Venkatesan works on plant-insect interactions and other multi-trophic interactions at the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata, India.
Abstract of the talk: Chemical ecology is an emerging research area, which links chemistry with ecology by studying chemically mediated interactions between organisms. Plants produce a variety of chemicals to cope with biotic and abiotic stressors. My lab studies the role of these chemicals in shaping plant interactions. In the first part of the talk, I will present our work related to plant signals that help insects choose their oviposition sites and how these signals in turn shape the interactions with the natural enemies of these herbivorous insects. We have shown that depending on the host plant chemistries, insect immune responses change and this can ultimately lead to better survival against parasitoid wasps. Overall, this part of the talk highlights the importance of plant volatile chemicals in tri-trophic interactions. In the second part of my talk, I will be presenting our recent findings on non-volatile chemicals from plants that can have tremendous applications in human health. Particularly, I will discuss the therapeutic potential of cysteine-rich ultrastable, cyclic peptides extracted from Clitoria ternatea plant that is used in traditional medicine as an antioxidant and enhancer of cognitive functions. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a chronic and progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized primarily by extracellular plaques of beta-amyloid peptide (Aβ) deposits and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. We show that these cyclic peptides can significantly improve Aβ aggregation-induced effects using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system. Taken together, our findings reveal that these unique cyclic peptides could be a source of novel pharmacophores to combat neurodegenerative diseases.