Rumyana Karlova

Assistant professor- WUR, Laboratory of Plant Physiology

Research focus: Stress resilience in Crops


My research interest was always focused on plants, how they respond to external and internal stimuli and how plants can change and reprogram their development. My PhD thesis research was focused on understanding the mechanism of brassinosteroid signal transduction pathways and the process of reprogramming of somatic plat cells to a totipotent state. Since then I have always been interested in the regulation of plant developmental processes and realizing that I can transfer my experience and knowledge from a model species Arabidopsis to the model crop species tomato, I joined the lab of prof. Gerco Angenent as a post-doctoral fellow. During my post-doctorate I obtained a NWO-VENI grant and we identified new important regulators of tomato fruit ripening, SlAP2a and FUL1/FUL2 transcription factors. Furthermore, I was the first to set up the protocol for degradome (PARE) analysis on a genome-wide scale in tomato and demonstrated that miRNAs are important regulators of tomato fruit development. In my second post-doc project I was investigating the ability of glycosyltransferases to glycosylate different plant hormones and their function in plants as detoxifying components involved in plant development and defence. In my current ERA-NET SusCrop grant, “Resilience to salinity in tomato” I would like to understand how tomato plants respond to salinity and which gene regulatory networks regulate these responses at molecular and cellular level. In this project the role and importance of root architecture, in abiotic stress resilience and the interaction of plant roots with soil microbial communities and other organic biostimulants will be investigated. Novel developments in biostimulants show that it is possible to affect root functioning and resilience towards abiotic stress such as salt and drought. However, despite the potential for agriculture, there is very limited knowledge on the mechanisms through which biostimulants act. In this project the role of different biostimulants on tomato salinity resilience will be investigated.

I started working as an Assistant Professor in the Plant Physiology laboratory from 1st of April 2020.

Research Group: stress resilience in Crops

Damian Boer (PhD student): “Getting to the roots of stress resilience of potato plants”

Jeroen Busscher (technician): “The power of seaweeds as biostimulants” (WUR-funded project).

Rianne Kluck (Master student): “Transcriptional regulation of salt resilience in tomato”

Berend Groutars (Master student): “Understanding the molecular mechanism of action of seaweeds as biostimulants.”

Lisa Beckers (Master student): “The role of seaweeds as biostimulants to alleviate drought stress in tomato”

Research projects:

2019, “NWO ERA-NET SusCrop grant, “Resilience to salinity in tomato”. Co- applicant. Co-coordinator.

2019, “ WUR- Protein Transition Community Fund”. The power of seaweeds, Co- applicant.

2019, “PSG-WUR Strategic Fund”. From the bottom to the top: Predict and Unravel the stability of synthetic microbial communities that can alleviate plant growth and yield upon abiotic stresses. Co-applicant.

Also involved as a supervisor and co-promoter in the NWO-TTW-H.I.P. project, “Getting to the roots of stress resilience of potato plants” and NWO Gravitation Programme, MiCrop project: “Harnessing the second genome of plants. Microbial imprinting for crop resilience.” obtained by Prof. Christa Testerink, Link to the website (coming soon):


Outchkourov N*, Karlova R*, Hoelscher M, Schrama X, Blilou I, Jongedijk E, Diez Simon C, van Dijk ADJ, Bosch D, Hall R, Beekwilder J (2018). Transcription factor mediated control of anthocyanin biosynthesis in vegetative tissues. Plant Physiology, 176(2):1862-1878.

Karlova R, Chapman N, David K, Angenent GC, Seymour GB, de Maagd RA (2014). Transcriptional control of fleshy fruit development and ripening. Journal of Experimental Botany 65, 4527-4541.

Parapunova V, Busscher M, Busscher-Lange J, Lammers M, Karlova R, Bovy AG, Angenent GC, de Maagd RA (2014) Identification, cloning and characterization of the tomato TCP transcription factor family. BMC Plant Biology 14: 157.

Karlova R, van Haarst JC, Maliepaard C, van de Geest H, Bovy AG, Lammers M, Angenent   GC, de Maagd RA. (2013) Identification of microRNA targets in tomato fruit development using high-throughput sequencing and degradome analysis. Journal of Experimental Botany 64, 1863-1878.

Bemer M*, Karlova R*, Ballester AR, Tikunov YM, Bovy AG, Wolters-Arts M, Rossetto Pde B, Angenent GC, de Maagd RA (2012) The tomato FRUITFULL homologs TDR4/FUL1 and MBP7/FUL2 regulate ethylene-independent aspects of fruit ripening. The Plant cell 24, 4437-4451.

Mravec J, Petrasek J, Li N, Boeren S, Karlova R, Kitakura S, Parezova M, Naramoto S, Nodzynski T, Dhonukshe P, Bednarek SY, Zazimalova E, de Vries S, Friml J (2011) Cell plate restricted association of DRP1A and PIN proteins is required for cell polarity establishment in Arabidopsis. Current Biology 21: 1055-1060.

Kaufmann K, Smaczniak C, de Vries S, Angenent GC, Karlova R (2011) Proteomics insights into plant signaling and development. Proteomics 11: 744-755

Karlova R, Rosin FM, Busscher-Lange J, Parapunova V, Do PT, Fernie AR, Fraser PD, Baxter C, Angenent GC, de Maagd RA (2011) Transcriptome and metabolite profiling show that APETALA2a is a major regulator of tomato fruit ripening. Plant Cell 23: 923-941.

Karlova R, Boeren S, van Dongen W, Kwaaitaal M, Aker J, Vervoort J, de Vries S (2009) Identification of in vitro phosphorylation sites in the Arabidopsis thaliana somatic embryogenesis receptor-like kinases. Proteomics 9: 368-379

Naimov S, Boncheva R, Karlova R, Dukiandjiev S, Minkov I, de Maagd RA (2008) Bacillus thuringiensis serovar thompsoni HD542 Crystal Proteins: Solubilization, Activation, and Insecticidal Activity. Appl Environ Microbio. 2008 Dec;74(23):7145-51

Aker J, Hesselink R, Engel R, Karlova R, Borst JW, Visser AJ, de Vries SC (2007) In vivo hexamerizatio and characterization of the Arabidopsis AAA ATPase CDC48A complex using foster resonance energy transfer-fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy. Plant Physiol. Vol 145, pp. 339-350.

Aker, J., Borst, JW., Karlova, R., and de Vries, S.C.  (2006) The Arabidopsis thaliana AAA protein CDC48A interacts in vivo with the somatic embryogenesis receptor-like kinase 1 receptor at the plasma membrane. J Struct Biol 156, 62-71.

Karlova, R., and de Vries, S.C. (2006) Advances in understanding brassinosteroid signaling. Science STKE, Sep. 26;2006(354):pe36.

Karlova, R., Boeren, S., Russinova, E., Aker, J., Vervoort, J., and de Vries, S. (2006) The Arabidopsis SOMATIC EMBRYOGESIS RECEPTOR-LIKE KINASE1 protein complex includes BRASSINOSTEROID-INSENSITIVE1. Plant Cell 18, 625-638.

Vries, S.C. de., Kwaaitaal, M.A.C.J., Karlova, R.B., Aker, J.C.M., Albrecht, C., Borst, J.W., Russinova, E.T. (2005) The Arabidopsis SERK/BRI signalling complex: genetic and biochemical approaches. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. A, Molecular and Integrative Physiology 141 (3). – p. S258 – S258.

Karlova, R., Weemen-Hendriks, M., Naimov, S., Ceron, J., Dukiandjiev, S., and de Maagd, R.A. (2005) Bacillus thuringiensis delta-endotoxin Cry1Ac domain III enhances activity against Heliothis virescens in some, but not all Cry1-Cry1Ac hybrids. Journal of invertebrate pathology 88, 169-172.

*These authors contributed equally to this work.