cecileben

Cecile Ben

Associate Professor
Digital AgroLaboratory

Professor: Laurent Gentzbittel

Graduated from Toulouse Higher School of Agricultural and Life sciences (Agro Toulouse, France), Cécile Ben received MSc degree in Plant AgroBiosciences in 2001 and got her PhD degree in Plant Genomics & Development from Toulouse National Polytechnic Institute in 2005. After a post-doctoral research fellowship at CNRS/Univ. of Paris XI in animal molecular biology and genomics (2005-2006), and a second one at Agro Toulouse in legume quantitative genetics (2006-2008), she was hired as faculty at Agro Toulouse in 2008, where she’s been leading the teaching track in Plant Genetics and Plant Breeding ever since.

Pr Cecile Ben is an expert in plant genetics and genomics as well as in plant biotechnology. Making use of plant natural genetic diversity, she develops genomics and whole-genome approaches to understand the genetic determinism of agronomical complex traits, and to predict adaptation to environmental constraints. Her research has led to significant advances in understanding genetic bases for stress tolerance in plants and to the development of an innovative and groundbreaking genomic-based prediction method for quantitative traits –WhoGEM-. Among her notable research contributions are publications in Genome Biol., PNAS, New Phytol., J. Exp. Bot.

She has a large expertise in setting up and managing international scientific cooperation: she leads and participates to several successful international collaborative projects (EU PRIMA, NSF, bilateral CNRS/international programs, private/academic contracts); gives high-level courses in plant quantitative genetics in several countries for Master and PhD students and senior scientists; and was Research Scholar for six months at USC/Los Angeles (USA, 2014) as consultant in the USAID “Climate resilient chickpea” project.

Within the Skoltech Digital Agriculture Laboratory, Pr Cecile Ben focuses on establishing and leading research programs in plant genetics as well as advanced applied agricultural breeding projects, using cutting-edge quantitative genetics, genomics and biotechnology approaches. She will also be involved in courses in Plant Breeding within the current MSc and PhD programs in Life Sciences.

  • Plant genetics, genomics and biotechnologies towards efficient breeding for key agronomical traits in strategical crops  : From HT-omics to GWAS and Genomic Prediction to unravel genetic architecture of complex agronomical traits. Our goal is to develop high-level research towards improved genetics for key agronomical traits to cope with present and future challenges of agriculture. A particular attention will be given to question-driven projects aimed at improving the competitiveness of Russian agro-sector.
  • Cutting-edge research to understand the genetic basis of plant quantitative disease resistances in a context of climate change. Plant diseases are a major constraint to future food security. The growing demand for a sustainable food supply and the need to reduce pesticide use, whilst maintaining production, have driven the search for alternatives to control plant diseases. Quantitative Disease Resistance (QDR) generally show higher durability and often confer broad resistance to several pathogens. As such, they are predicted to be critical for efficient control of epidemics. Breeding for varieties with improved QDR is therefore a suitable and promising line of research towards more efficient and sustainable agriculture.

We propose to examine how QDR plant – pathogen interactions respond to severe environmental constraints – such as temperature increase, salinity… – favored by climate change. Our objectives are :

i) to evaluate the plant responses by challenging varieties with temperature-adapted pathogen strains at different temperatures according to global change scenarii;

ii) to decipher the genetic control for quantitative resistance under these different scenarii and reveal possible differential molecular regulations depending on temperature.

iii) To unravel genetic architecture of plant response to combined environmental stresses.

We will focus on quantitative resistance to root and foliar diseases in legumes (soybean, pea, medics).

List of 5 major publications

  1. Chaouachi M, Marzouk T, Jallouli S, Elkahoui S, Gentzbittel L, Ben C*, Djébali N*. (2020) Activity assessment of tomato endophytic bacteria bioactive compounds for the postharvest biocontrol of Botrytis cinereaPostharvest Biology and Technology. * Co-corresponding authors. (IF2019: 4.40)
  2. Gentzbittel L, Ben C, Mazurier M, Min-Gyoung S, Lorenz T, Rickauer M, Marjoram P, Nuzhdin S, Tatarinova T. (2019) WhoGEM: an admixture-based prediction machine accurately predicts quantitative functional traits in plants. Genome Biol.20, 106DOI: 1186/s13059-019-1697-0. (IF2019: 12.160)
  3. Formey D*, Sallet E*, Lelandais-Brière C*, Ben C*, Bustos-Sanmamed P, Niebel A, Frugier F, Combier JP, Hartmann C, Wincker P, Roux C, Gentzbittel L, Gouzy J, Crespi M. (2014) Diversity, conservation and plasticity of the miRNAome from Medicago truncatula roots under symbiotic and pathogenic interactions, Genome Biology, 15:457. (*These authors contributed equally to the work – Research highlight by Huan Wang & Nam-Hai Chua, Genome Biology 2014, 15:475) (IF2019: 12.160)
  4. Ben C, Toueni M, Montanari S, Tardin MC, Fervel M, Negahi A, Saint-Pierre L, Mathieu G, Gras MC, Noël D, Prospéri JM, Pilet-Nayel ML, Baranger A, Huguet T, Julier B, Rickauer M, Gentzbittel L. (2013) Natural diversity in the model legume Medicago truncatula allows identifying distinct genetic mechanisms conferring partial resistance to Verticillium wilt. J Exp Bot. 64(1):317-32. (Highlighted as one of the fifth most read articles from J Exp Bot in March, 2017(IF2019: 5.090)
  5. Ben C, Hewezi T, Jardinaud MF, Bena F, Ladouce N, Moretti S, Tamborindeguy C, Liboz T, Petitprez M, Gentzbittel L. (2005) Comparative analysis of early embryonic sunflower cDNA libraries. Plant Mol Biol. 57(2):255-70. (IF2019: 4.080)

 

Full list of publications

  1. Chaouachi M, Marzouk T, Jallouli S, Elkahoui S, Gentzbittel L, Ben C*, Djébali N*. (2020) Activity assessment of tomato endophytic bacteria bioactive compounds for the postharvest biocontrol of Botrytis cinerea. Postharvest Biology and Technology. * Co-corresponding authors. (IF2019: 4.40)
  2. Grigoreva E, Ulianich P, Ben C, Gentzbittel L, Potokina E. (2019) First insights into the guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (L.) Taub.) genome of the ‘Vavilovskij 130’ accession, using second and third-generation sequencing technologies. Russian Journal of Genetics, 55(11), 1406-1416, DOI: 10.1134/S102279541911005X (IF2019: 0.510)
  3. Gentzbittel L, Ben C, Mazurier M, Min-Gyoung S, Lorenz T, Rickauer M, Marjoram P, Nuzhdin S, Tatarinova T. (2019) WhoGEM: an admixture-based prediction machine accurately predicts quantitative functional traits in plants. Genome Biol., 20, 106, DOI: 1186/s13059-019-1697-0. (IF2019: 12.160)
  4. Kelly S, Mun T, Stougaard J, Ben C, Andersen SU. (2018) Distinct Lotus japonicus transcriptomic responses to a spectrum of microbes ranging from pathogenic to symbiotic. Plant Sci., 9:1218, DOI 10.3389/fpls.2018.01218 (IF2019: 4.300)
  5. Yamchi A, Ben C, Rossignol M, Zareie SR, Mirlohi A, Sayed‐Tabatabaei BE, Pichereaux C, Sarrafi A, Rickauer M, Gentzbittel L. (2018) Proteomics analysis of Medicago truncatula response to infection by the phytopathogenic bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum points to jasmonate and salicylate defence pathways. Cellular Microbiology, 20(4):10. DOI 10.1111/cmi.12796 (IF2019: 4.060)
  6. Cai F, Watson BS, Meek D, Huhman DV, Wherritt DJ, Ben C, Gentzbittel L, Driscoll BT, Sumner LW, Bede J. (2017) Medicago truncatula haemolytic saponin level is potentially correlated with caterpillar antixenosis resistance. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 43(7):712-724, DOI 10.1007/s10886-017-0863-7 (IF2019: 2.530)
  7. Kadri A, Julier B, Laouar M, Ben C, Badri M, Chedded J, Mouhouche B, Gentzbittel L, Abdelguerfi A. (2017) Genetic determinism of reproductive fitness traits under drought stress in the model legume Medicago truncatula. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum, 39:227, DOI 0.1007/s11738-017-2527-1(IF2019: 1.820)
  8. Rahoui S, Martinez Y, Sakouhi L, Chaoui A, Ben C, Rickauer M, Gentzbittel L, El Ferjani M. (2017) Cadmium-induced changes in antioxidative systems and differentiation in roots of contrasted Medicago truncatula Protoplasma, 254(1): 473-489, DOI 10.1007/s00709-016-0968-9 (IF2019: 2.800)
  9. Toueni M, Ben C, Leru A, Gentzbittel L, Rickauer M. (2016) Quantitative resistance to Verticillium wilt in Medicago truncatula involves eradication of the fungus from roots and is associated with transcriptional responses related to innate immunity. Frontiers in Plant Sci., 7:1431, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2016.01431(IF2019: 4.300)
  10. Youssef C., Aubry C., Montrichard F., Beucher D., Juchaux M., Ben C., Prosperi J.M., Béatrice Teulat. (2016) Cell length instead cell number becomes the predominant factor contributing to hypocotyl length genotypic differences under abiotic stress in Medicago truncatula. Physiologia Plantarum, 156: 108–124. (IF2019: 3.190)
  11. Gentzbittel L., Andersen S.U., Ben C., Rickauer M., Stougaard J., Young N.D. (2015) Naturally occuring diversity helps to reveal genes of adaptive importance in legumes. Plant Sci., 6:269. doi:10.3389/fpls.2015.00269. (IF2019: 4.300)
  12. Rahoui S, Chaoui A, Ben C, Rickauer M, Gentzbittel L, El Ferjani E. (2015) Effect of cadmium pollution on mobilization of embryo reserves in seedlings of six contrasted Medicago truncatula Phytochemistry, 111:98-106. . (IF2019: 3.030)
  13. Formey D*, Sallet E*, Lelandais-Brière C*, Ben C*, Bustos-Sanmamed P, Niebel A, Frugier F, Combier JP, Hartmann C, Wincker P, Roux C, Gentzbittel L, Gouzy J, Crespi M. (2014) Diversity, conservation and plasticity of the miRNAome from Medicago truncatula roots under symbiotic and pathogenic interactions, Genome Biology, 15:457. (*These authors contributed equally to the work – Research highlight by Huan Wang & Nam-Hai Chua, Genome Biology 2014, 15:475) (IF2019: 12.160)
  14. Foroozanfar M, Exbrayat S, Gentzbittel L, Bertoni G, Maury P, Naghavie M, Peyghambari A, Badri M, Ben C, Debellé F, Sarrafi A. (2014) Genetic variability and identification of QTL affecting plant growth and chlorophyll fluorescence parameters in the model legume Medicago truncatula under control and salt conditions, Functional Plant Biology, 41(9):983-1001. (IF2019: 2.430)
  15. Rahoui S, Ben C, Martinez Y, Chaoui A, Yamchi A, Rickauer M, Gentzbittel L, El Ferjani Ezzeddine. (2014) Oxidative injury and antioxidant genes regulation in six Medicago truncatula genotypes in response to cadmium treatment. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 21(13): 8070. (IF2019: 3.000)
  16. Negahi A, Ben C, Gentzbittel L, Maury P, Nabipour AR, Ebrahimi A, Sarrafi A, Rickauer M. Quantitative trait loci associated with resistance to a potato isolate of Verticillium albo-atrum in Medicago truncatula. (2014) Plant Pathol., 63(2): 308–315. (IF2019: 2.550)
  17. Ben C, Debellé F, Berges H, Bellec A, Jardinaud MF, Anson P, Huguet T, Gentzbittel L, Vailleau F. (2013) MtQRRS1, a R-locus required for Medicago truncatula Quantitative Resistance to Ralstonia solanacearum. New Phytol. 199(3):758-72. (IF2019: 8.512)
  18. Ben C, Toueni M, Montanari S, Tardin MC, Fervel M, Negahi A, Saint-Pierre L, Mathieu G, Gras MC, Noël D, Prospéri JM, Pilet-Nayel ML, Baranger A, Huguet T, Julier B, Rickauer M, Gentzbittel L. (2013) Natural diversity in the model legume Medicago truncatula allows identifying distinct genetic mechanisms conferring partial resistance to Verticillium wilt. J Exp Bot. 64(1):317-32. (Highlighted as one of the fifth most read articles from J Exp Bot in March, 2017) (IF2019: 5.090)
  19. Negahi A, Sarrafi A, Ebrahimi A, Maury P, Prospéri JM, Ben C, Rickauer M. (2013). Genetic variability of tolerance to Verticillium albo-atrum and Verticillium dahliae in Medicago truncatula. Eur. J Plant Pathol. 136:135–143. (IF2019: 1.582)
  20. Yang Y, Chen J, Liu Q, Ben C, Todd CD, Shi J, Yang Y, Hu X. (2012) Comparative Proteomic Analysis of the Thermotolerant Plant Portulaca oleracea Acclimation to Combined High Temperature and Humidity Stress. J Proteome Res. 11(7):3605-23. (IF2019: 4.074)
  21. Moreau D, Burstin J, Aubert G, Huguet T, Ben C, Prosperi JM, Salon C, Munier-Jolain N. (2012) Using a physiological framework for improving the detection of quantitative trait loci related to nitrogen nutrition in Medicago truncatula. Theor Appl Genet. 124(4):755-68. (IF2019: 4.439)
  22. Branca A, Paape T, Zhou P, Briskine R, Farmer A, Mudge J, Bharti A, Woodward J, May G, Gentzbittel L, Ben C, Denny R, Sadowsky M, Ronfort J, Bataillon T, Young N, Tiffin P (2011) Whole-genome nucleotide diversity, recombination, and linkage-disequilibrium in the model legume Medicago truncatula. PNAS 108(42):E864-70. (IF2019: 9.412)
  23. Stewart S, Hodge S, Mansfield J, Prosperi JM, Huguet T, Ben C, Gentzbittel L, Powell G. (2009) The RAP1 gene confers extreme resistance to the pea aphid in Medicago truncatula without engaging the hypersensitive reaction. Plant-Microbe Interact. 12, 1645-1655. (IF2019: 3.649)
  24. Ben C, Hewezi T, Jardinaud MF, Bena F, Ladouce N, Moretti S, Tamborindeguy C, Liboz T, Petitprez M, Gentzbittel L. (2005) Comparative analysis of early embryonic sunflower cDNA libraries. Plant Mol Biol. 57(2):255-70. (IF2019: 4.080)
  25. Tamborindeguy C, Ben C, Liboz T, Gentzbittel L. (2004) Sequence evaluation of four specific cDNA libraries for developmental genomics of sunflower. Mol Genet Genomics. 271(3):367-75. (IF2019: 2.797)
  26. Tamborindeguy C, Ben C, Jardinaud F, Gentzbittel L, Liboz T. (2004) Mass cloning of differential and non differential transcript-derived fragments from cDNA-AFLP experiments in sunflower. Plant Mol. Biol. Rep. 22(2):165-171. (IF2019: 1.402)

  • ‘Modern Plant Breeding': from Genetic Resources to Marker Assisted Selection and Genomic Prediction.
    Plant breeding is one of the most important science and technology developed by humankind.
    In a context where reductions on chemical inputs are required by societal demand and national and international regulations, but where the demand for raw materials continues to increase to cope with demographic change, the genetic improvement of plants contributes to answer these major challenges, while integrating them into a sustainable development policy. A thorough knowledge and excellent mastery of the most recent techniques used to understand and improve the agricultural key traits-  including the most suitable and efficient breeding schemes, marker-assisted selection and genomic prediction as well as ag biotech methods – are of utmost importance to meet the next Smart Green Revolution.
  • ‘Plant genetic diversity & Adaptation to stress': Investigate the natural genetic sources for plant stress tolerance to meet the challenges of climate change and low inputs eco-friendly practices in agriculture.
    Plants, unlike animals, are rooted to a single location and thus forced to adapt to any environmental conditions. In order to withstand stressful conditions, plants have evolved an array of advanced physiological, biochemical, and molecular defense mechanisms, which help them in avoiding or combating negative environmental effects. Climate change is expected to exacerbate unfavorable environmental conditions caused by abiotic (drought, extreme temperatures, flooding, salinity…) and biotic (pests, diseases) stress factors, resulting in sharp reductions in average crop yields. On the other hand, societal demand for environmentally friendly farming practices with low inputs supports the need for new improved varieties tolerant to harsh environmental constraints. Understanding plant responses and adaptation mechanisms to extreme stress conditions is therefore critical to the genetic improvement of economically important crops.