Grant recipient

Oliver Van Aken

“Harnessing ‘Touch’ responses in plants to improve yield and sustainable agricultural practices”
Grant amount: DKK 9.517.222

Perhaps surprisingly, plants are sensitive to mechanical stimulation caused by wind, water drops, and gentle touching by insects or neighboring plants. Mechanical stimuli can change the plant’s physical appearance and flowering. ‘Touching’ may also increase plant resistance to pathogens, insects and abiotic stresses by stimulating its defense systems.

Very little is known about how plants detect mechanical stimuli, and how they induce physiological and molecular changes. Mechanical stimulation also has clear application potential, as controlled rolling has been widely used in Japanese grain agriculture to improve yield for centuries. The practical usefulness in Nordic agriculture is, however, unknown. This project aims to reveal the processes that control touch responses in plants, and exploit the potential of controlled mechanical treatment to improve sustainable agriculture.

Oliver Van Aken
Associate Professor, Ph.D.
Biology Department, Lund University