The Meijer lab: Understanding plant-pest interactions and plant defense in Brassicaceae

Last changed: 02 July 2021

We are interested in how plants interact with other organisms and how plants handle stress. We study the basic architecture and regulation of stress responses, and factors that affect plant interactions with other organisms and environment aim to improve plant resistance to biotic and abiotic stress.

Brassicales plants contain the myrosinase-glucosinolate system. The enzyme myrosinase degrades the secondary metabolites glucosinolates into toxic products and is a major defense barrier towards insect pests (generalists) and pathogens. However, through co-evolution with plants certain insects (specialists) and pathogens have overcome this barrier. Glucosinolates also shape the rhizosphere microbiota and seem to act in plant signaling as well.

Interestingly certain glucosinolate products can prevent cancer providing functional foods properties to Brassica plants. By defining the role of various factors in this system in oilseed rape (Brassica napus) and Arabidopsis thaliana we can study the plasticity of the system and how changes affect development, defense and the rhizosphere.


See a list of selected publications here.

Coworkers in the Johan Meijer group

  • Shashidar Asari, Graduate student
  • Adnan Niazi, postdoc 
  • Staffan Matzén, Master student
  • Nururshopa Eskander Shazada, Master student

The induced stress responses may comprise both a rapid local reaction and a slower systemic response throughout the plant. By challenging B. napus and A. thaliana with biotic and abiotic stress we can identify factors involved in stress responses and improve our understanding of stress signaling.

Improving plants' stress management 

We are also exploring beneficial bacteria to improve biotic and abiotic stress management of plants. These Bacteria seem to stimulate the plant through growth promotion as well as priming of induced systemic resistance (ISR) and induced systemic tolerance (IST) to biotic and abiotic stress, respectively.

We are mainly using Bacillus amyloliquefasciens strains and interested in mechanisms of plant colonization, growth promotion, priming and stress tolerance in order to support durable plant protection and eliminate chemical pesticides.

Get to know your enemy

Another strategy to improve pest control is to learn more about biology, physiology and genomics of the attackers. Earlier studies of population biology of pollen beetles are followed by studies of insecticide resistance genes and beetle genomics. This will be followed by studies of other pest factors to support development of novel strategies to achieve durable crop protection.


Agencies that support the work

The Pehrson Foundation, Nilsson-Ehle Fund (Kungl Fysiografiska Sällskapet i Lund), Carl Trygger Fund and KSLA.


Professor Johan Meijer

Group leader at the Meijer lab
Department of Plant Biology, SLU

Telephone: + 46 18-67 33 21