B'sweet Initiative

B'sweet is a collaborative research effort between the departments of Experimental Plant Ecology, Molecular Plant Physiology, Molecular Interaction Ecology, as well as the Experimental Garden and Genebank of the Institute for Water and Wetland Research (IWWR).

Scientific staff: Prof Titti Mariani, Dr Janny L. Peters, Prof Nicole N. van Dam, Dr Eric J.W. Visser, Dr Heidrun Huber, Dr Ivo Rieu

Research focus

Our research focuses on Solanum dulcamara (Bittersweet Nightshade) and closely related solanaceous species. Our main aim is to unravel how S. dulcamara responds to abiotic and biotic stresses that commonly occur in its natural habitat.

We chose S. dulcamara as our communal model species because this native species occurs in a wide range of natural habitats in the Netherlands. Thriving populations of Bittersweet plants can be found in the dry coastal dunes as well as in continuously wet lake borders. Moreover, S. dulcamara is known to possess various defences, such as alkaloids and R-genes, against herbivores and pathogens. Its diploid genome (2 n = 24 ) and close relatedness to other solanaceous genomic model species, such as tomato, potato, eggplant and petunia, makes it an ideal native model plant.

Currently, we are analyzing the phenotypic responses of S. dulcamara elicited by water stress – both drought and flooding – as well as by pathogens and insect herbivory, alone and in combination. The plants’ responses are analysed on the ecological, physiological as well as genomic level. This integrated ecogenomics approach will reveal whether, how and why S. dulcamara employs various forms of phenotypic plasticity to survive in nature.


  • Nguyen, D., Y. Poeschl, et al. (2018) "Interactive responses of Solanum dulcamara to drought and insect feeding are herbivore-specific." International Journal of Molecular Sciences 19: 3845
  • Calf, O. W., H. Huber, et al. (2018) "Gastropods and insects prefer different Solanum dulcamara chemotypes." Journal of Chemical Ecology (Epub ahead of print)
  • Yang, X., M. J. Jansen, et al. (2018) "A disturbed auxin signaling affects adventitious root outgrowth in Solanum dulcamara under complete submergence." Journal of Plant Physiology 224-225: 11-18
  • Calf, O. W., H. Huber, et al. (2018) "Glycoalkaloid composition explains variation in slug resistance in Solanum dulcamara." Oecologia 187(2): 495-506
  • Zhang, Q., H. Huber, et al. (2017). "Benefits of flooding-induced aquatic adventitious roots depend on the duration of submergence: linking plant performance to root functioning." Annals of Botany 120(1): 171-180.
  • Zhang, Q., H. Huber, et al. (2017). "Environmental factors constraining adventitious root formation during flooding of Solanum dulcamara." Functional Plant Biology 44(9): 858-866.
  • Nguyen, D., I. Rieu, et al. (2016). "How plants handle multiple stresses: hormonal interactions underlying responses to abiotic stress and insect herbivory." Plant Molecular Biology 91(6): 727-740.
  • Zhang, Q., J. L. Peters, et al. (2016). " Hydrologically contrasting environments induce genetic but not phenotypic differentiation in Solanum dulcamara." Journal of Ecology 104(6): 1649-1661.
  • Nguyen, D., N. D’Agostino, et al. (2016). "Drought and flooding have distinct effects on herbivore-induced responses and resistance in Solanum dulcamara." Plant Cell and Environment 39(7): 1485–1499.
  • Dawood, T., X. Yang, et al. (2016). "A co-opted hormonal cascade activates dormant adventitious root primordia upon flooding in Solanum dulcamara." Plant Physiology 170(4): 2351-2364.
  • Lortzing, T., O. W. Calf, et al. (2016). "Extrafloral nectar secretion from wounds of Solanum dulcamara." Nature Plants 2: 16056-16056.
  • Visser, E. J. W., Q. Zhang, et al. (2016). "Shade affects responses to drought and flooding - acclimation to multiple stresses in bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara L.)." Plant Biology (Stuttgart) 18: 112-119.
  • Zhang, Q., E. J. W. Visser, et al. (2015). "Life cycle stage and water depth affect flooding-induced adventitious root formation in the terrestrial species Solanum dulcamara. " Annals of Botany 116: 279-290.
  • Dawood, T., I. Rieu, et al. (2014). "Rapid flooding-induced adventitious root development from preformed primordia in Solanum dulcamara." AoB PLANTS 6: plt058.
  • D'Agostino, N., T. Golas, et al. (2013). "Genomic analysis of the native European Solanum species, S. dulcamara." Bmc Genomics 14: 356
  • Golas, T. M., H. van de Geest, et al. (2013). "Comparative next-generation mapping of the Phytophthora infestans resistance gene Rpi-dlc2 in a European accession of Solanum dulcamara." Theoretical and Applied Genetics 126: 59-68.
  • Calf, O. W. and N. M. van Dam (2012). "Bittersweet bugs: the Dutch insect community on the nightshade Solanum dulcamara." Entomologische Berichten 72: 193-198.
  • Golas, T. M., R. M. C. Feron, et al. (2010). "Genetic structure of European accessions ofSolanum dulcamara L. (Solanaceae)." Plant Systematics and Evolution 285: 103-110.
  • Golas, T. M., G. M. van der Weerden, et al. (2010). "Role of Solanum dulcamara L. in Potato Late Blight Epidemiology." Potato Research 53: 69-81.

PhD theses


  • Onno Calf: "Molecular mechanisms and ecological consequences of slug-resistance in Solanum dulcamara"


  • Dr Xinping Yang: "Hormone signalling in adventitious root formation in Solanum dulcamara" (defended: 27/11/2017)
  • Dr Qian Zhang: "Surviving contrasting abiotic stress - An ecophysiological study on responses to flooding an ecophysiological study on responses to flooding and drought stress in Solanum dulcamara" (defended: 21/09/2016)
  • Dr Duy Nguyen: "Interactions between biotic and abiotic stress responses in Solanum dulcamara" (defended: 11/05/2016)
  • Dr Thikra Dawood: "A molecular and physiological analysis of flooding-induced adventitious root growth in Solanum dulcamara" (defended: 16/10/2013)
  • Dr Thomasz Golas: "European Solanum dulcamara L. and its interaction with Phytophthora infestans (Mont.) de Bary" (defended: 28/01/2010)

B'sweet initiative - Plant Ecology