Dalila Trupiano

  • Designation: Associate Professor in Botany at Department of Biosciences and Territory - University of Molise
  • Country: Italy
  • Title: The DRO1 Gene Under Spotlight of Functional Genomics for Improving Tomato Root Architecture


Dalila Trupiano is an Associate Professor in Botany at the Department of Biosciences and Territory - University of Molise (Italy). Her research activities are carried out in the Plant Biology Laboratory, narrowing down its focus on plant environment interactions (from the cellular up to the organism level) by using morphological, anatomical, physiological, and molecular analyses. Furthermore, comparative proteomic analysis and phytohormones profiling, coupled with bioinformatics-modelling pipelines, are used to comprehend factors in plants response to different stresses. Innovative phenotyping image-based approaches are being developed to predict plant growth in different growth conditions (SCOPUS ID: 24559477600; ORCID ID: 0000-0001-8587-9971).


Due to population growth, urbanization, and climate change, the competition for water resources is expected to increase, with a relevant impact on the agrosystems, where water is used for irrigation. Notably, different plant species counteract drought conditions by modulating the functionality of the root system that ultimately determines their access to water. An area of recent interest is examining the genetic determinant for improving root traits that increase plant water use efficiency and, expressly, maintain their productivity under drought conditions.
Recently, research on root plasticity has focused on the utility of specific root traits under water limitation, and an increasing number of quantitative trait loci (QTL) and genes have been reported in different crop/model species. Among them, DRO1 was found to be a significant root QTL in rice and Arabidopsis. It is strictly related to deep-growing root systems, allowing plants to reach deeper groundwater and survive during drought periods. However, it is notable that the specific root traits regulated by this gene (root angle, root length, etc.) were distinct in the above-mentioned plant species. Therefore, shedding light on the DRO1 function in other crop species could provide the necessary resources and reference to improve their productivity and performance under water shortage, putting this understanding into practice.
In this scenario, our study - funded by the European Union - Next-GenerationEU project – and the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan - aims at functionally characterizing the DRO1-controlled root phenotype in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) plant, an important crop grown worldwide. To accomplish this, an omics-driven approach combining phenomics and cutting-edge genomics was implemented to functionally analyze DRO1 gene, at a spatio-temporal level, and decipher the networks/mechanisms orchestrating tomato root architecture changes under challenging conditions.
Such insights promise to enhance plant fitness and resilience in evolving climatic conditions.

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