Biotechnological Assets Applied to Drought and Pests in Relevant Crops for Agribusiness

AL 05 - Plant-Pests Interaction - (Embrapa Cenargen, Embrapa Soybean, Embrapa Cerrados, Embrapa Rice and Beans, Embrapa Maize and Sorghum)

Supervisor: Patrícia Messenberg Guimarães

Laboratory activities with INCT                                                                                                 Collaborators

Sequencing transcriptomes associated with the response to drought of native species in Brazil (wild peanuts; pitangueira; Clúsia; and cashew) by large-scale sequencing.


Identify and select in silico candidate genes related to drought tolerance of native species (wild peanuts; pitangueira; Clúsia; and cashew).


Identify InDels and SNPs in candidate genes of native species associated with the drought response (wild peanuts; pitangueira; and cashew).


Validate in vitro the expression profile of candidate genes for tolerance to drought obtained from native species in Brazil (wild peanuts; pitangueira; Clúsia; and cashew).


Select vital genes / molecules for gall nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) by analyzing their genome.


Select potential genes involved in resistance from contrasting genotypes (peanuts; soybeans; rice; cotton and coffee)


Integrate legume transcriptome data (beans, soybeans and peanuts) submitted to water deficit, generated by mass sequencing (Illumina – HiSeq) in previous projects.


Integrate transcriptome data from resistant genotypes (beans, soy, rice, coffee and peanuts) infected by nematodes, generated by mass sequencing (Illumina – HiSeq) in previous projects.


Sequencing and integrating transcriptome of drought tolerant genotypes of Musa spp., Arachis spp., And cowpea subjected to water deficit combined with biotic stress (Meloidogyne spp. Or Mycosphaerella) in bioassays.


Validate the expression of key genes in the metabolic pathways of plants' response to combined stresses (biotic-biotic; biotic-biotic; abiotic-biotic) by qRT-PCR.


Sequencing on the Illumina platform a fraction of small RNAs, and their target mRNAs, and circular RNAs of plants (Arachis; Musa; soybean; pitangueira; cashew tree) subjected to biotic and / or abiotic stresses.


Analyze sequencing data to check methylation status of gene promoters in the metabolic pathways of interest.


Validate the function of plant genes identified in IDs 1 and 2 potentially involved in the mechanisms of drought tolerance in Arabidopsis, rice or sepia plants via overexpression or silencing strategies.

AL1 AL2 AL3 AL4 AL11

Validate the function of plant genes identified in ID 2 potentially involved in nematode resistance mechanisms via overexpression or silencing strategies.


Validate the function of nematode genes potentially involved in the parasitism mechanisms identified in ID 1, via gene silencing strategies (iRNA) in model systems.


Assess the potential of biotechnological assets generated for the purpose of intellectual protection.


Patent the use of genes and gene elements validated during the project


Organize, maintain and share an in vivo bank of the innovation assets obtained in the project shared by INCT members.


Laboratory Description

The Laboratory (Al5) - Plant-Pest Interaction conducts studies on the interaction of plants with biotic and abiotic stresses, aiming at elucidating the changes in the cellular, biochemical, physiological and molecular machinery of plants, which occur in response to different stresses, combined or not . In addition to prospecting and identifying genes, regulatory sequences and molecules involved in plant tolerance / resistance responses to one or more stresses, AL5 performs the validation of function of these assets in model plants and methods are developed and improved for the validation of these assets in target plants, which will enable the development of cultivars more adapted to different environmental conditions.

Research lines

• Prospecting for genes / molecules, peptides of interest for the control of drought and pests in wild peanut germplasm (Arachis spp.);

• Prospecting of target genes / molecules in phytoparasitic nematodes (Meloidogyne sp.) Of interest for pest control;

• Prospecting for small RNAs (small RNAs) in plant genotypes that are resistant / tolerant to pests and drought that may be involved in responding to these stresses; 

• Prospecting for genes / molecules, peptides that are efficient in controlling pests and tolerating water deficit simultaneously (cross-stress); 

• Pallidation of prospective assets due to their overexpression or gene silencing in model plants for analysis and validation of their function.



The LA5 laboratory has all the standard equipment needed for molecular, cellular, genetic and biochemical analyzes, as well as quantitative PCR systems and the availability of the microscope platform (electronic, confocal and laser dissection), mass spectrometers and servers with capacity mass data analysis.


Greenhouses and growth chambers with Biosafety Quality Certificate (CQB) for the development of activities with genetically modified plants (PGMs).

Our Team

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Patricia Messenberg Guimarães

Graduated in Agronomy from the University of Brasília (1985), master's degree in Phytopathology from the University of Brasília (1987) and doctorate in Molecular Biology - University of London (1997). She did post-doctorate in plant genomics at CIRAD (France) in 2006. She is currently a collaborator at the University of Brasilia (Unb) and Catholic University of Brasilia (UCB) and researcher at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation since 1989. The main research areas include Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Plant-pathogen interaction, and works mainly on the following themes: structural and functional genomics of legumes, Arachis genomics, plant resistance, plant tolerance to water stress, genetic maps, and molecular characterization of plants. She is coordinator of several national and international projects in the field of genetics and genomics of legumes and plant-pest interaction.

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Ana Cristina Miranda Brasileiro

Graduated in Forestry Engineering from the University of Brasília (1986), Master in Molecular and Plant Cell Biology - Universite de Paris XI (Paris-Sud) (1988) and PhD in Molecular and Plant Cell Biology - Universite de Paris XI (Paris-Sud ) (1992). He is currently a researcher at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation. From 2002 to 2006 she worked as a researcher at Labex-Europa at Cirad (France). He has experience in the field of Genetics, with an emphasis on Plant Genetics, working mainly on the following themes: genetic transformation, plant biotechnology, Agrobacterium biology, gene expression and genomics. Since 2006, she has been coordinator in Brazil of the International Consortium in Advanced Biology (CIBA), an initiative of Agropolis (France) and Embrapa (Brazil), whose objective is to create and consolidate an efficient strategy of international scientific and technical cooperation, to study and explore the diversity in genetic resources of plants and to identify important genes and characteristics essential for genetic improvement programs in Tropical and Mediterranean agriculture. From 2008 to 2014 he participated as an external member of the Scientific Council of the Department of Biological Systems (BIOS) of Cirad / France and since 2016 he has been an external member of the Scientific and Strategic Council of Cirad / France.

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Ana Claudia Guerra de Araújo


Researcher Ana Claudia Guerra de Araujo has a degree in Biology from the University of Brasília (1987), a PhD in Biological Sciences (Biophysics) from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (1994). Since 1994 she is a Researcher at Embrapa, at Cenargen, where she has been working with the interface between cellular and plant molecular biology at the Microscopy Laboratory. He has a post-doctorate in Australia (CSIRO, 2001) where he worked with molecular and cellular techniques in plant reproduction and in England (University of Leicester, 2011), where he worked with plant molecular cytogenetics using the microscopy tool. At Embrapa, he develops research in the area of ​​plant reproduction, through studies of morphology, cell biology and ultrastructure of developmental biology, involving techniques of cytochemistry, immunocytochemistry, cytogenetics, in situ hybridization associated with microscopy. It is also involved in studies on the plant-pathogen interaction, responses to biotic and abiotic stresses and quality in Arachis, determining factors for the success of a productive and sustainable agriculture.

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Priscila Grynberg

She holds a degree in Biological Sciences from the Federal University of Minas Gerais - UFMG (2004), a master's degree in Parasitology from UFMG (2007) and a PhD in Bioinformatics from UFMG (2011). She is currently Researcher A at Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology - Cenargen. Operates in research projects of functional analysis of gene expression and differential proteomics data, large-scale sequencing of microRNAs and data mining. In 2007, she was awarded the Samuel Pessoa Medal at the 20th Brazilian Congress of Parasitology, when she won first place with a work that associated non-synonymous polymorphisms in the apical membrane protein 1 of Plasmodium vivax (PvAMA-1) with the platelet count in patients infected. She is part of the executive committee of the Brazilian Association of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (AB3C).

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Roberto Coiti Togawa

Graduated in Data Processing from the University of Brasília (1984) and doctorate from the University of Bedfordshire (United Kingdom) (2006). He worked for several years in the area of basic software support and systems development. He is currently a research analyst at Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology. Has experience in Computer Science, with emphasis on Programming Languages, working mainly on the following topics: Development of analysis tools for genomic sequences, Analysis of NGS sequences. Development of analysis tools for protein structures, structural bioinformatics, Development of prediction and analysis tools for Membrane Proteins.


André Southernman Teixeira Irsigler

Graduated in Biological Sciences (2000), Master (2002) and Doctorate (2007) in Genetics and Breeding from Universidade Federal de Viçosa, with a sandwich period at North Carolina State University, and Post-doctorate at Florida State University. He is a researcher at Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, and is involved in the areas of regulation of gene expression and developmental biology.

• Ana Paula Zotta Mota - Lattes
• Andressa da Cunha Quintana Martins - Lattes 

• Eliza Fabricio de Melo Bellard do Nascimento - Lattes 

Master degree
• Thaís Nicolini de Oliveira - Lattes
• Bruna Medeiros Pereira - Lattes

University graduate / Scientific Initiation
• Mario Alfredo de Passos Saraiva - Lattes
• Lays Antunes Teixeira - Lattes

• Iracyara da Conceição Sampaio - Lattes 


Patricia Messenberg Guimarães

EMBRAPA - Recursos Genéticos e Biotecnologia
Parque Estação Biológica - PqEB 
Av. W5 Norte (final) - CP02372 
70770-917 - Brasília, DF - Brasil 
Phone:+55 61 3448-4787 
Fax:  +55 61 3340-3624

Embrapa Recursos Genéticos e Biotecnologia Parque Estação Biológica - PqEB - Av. W5 Norte (final)

Tel: +55 (61) 3448-4705