Plant pathology


ORCID : 0000-0002-2571-2069

Assistant professor – France

Département Biologie et Ecologie (BE) – Montpellier Supagro


Bat. 18
La Gaillarde, Montpellier



My research activities focus on the impact of farming practices (nitrogen fertilization, water condition, biocontrol spraying, varietal mixture, biostimulant) on cereal resistance to fungal diseases. I am particularly interested in the molecular interactions between the plant and the pathogen during the early stages of infection and the modulations of this interaction by the agronomic environment. I am particularly working on one of the major diseases in the world economy: rice blast. Recently, within my host team, we have also developed projects on durum wheat and its main fungal diseases: the two septoria, brown rust and wheat blast (an emerging disease). My expertise in the field of interactions between agronomic practices and plant resistance has allowed me to interact more strongly with researchers involved in the field of biocontrol and the impact of agricultural practices on field efficiency of this products.

The aim of my future research will be to understand the impact of the agronomic environment on the interactions between the plant and the micro-organisms associated with it, including pathogens, and to see how the plant’s resistance is modified by this environment.


  • In charge of:
    • a spring semester track in “Towards sustainable agriculture”, delivered in French and open to academic mobilities
  • Responsibility of several courses:
    • Breeding crop for resistance to biotic and abiotic stress (M2 level)
    • How to base farming practices on plant immune system : biocontrol and breeding for resistance (M2 level- project-based teaching in French or English)
  • Delivering lectures and diverse teaching activities in plant pathology, plant immune system, biocontrol and integrated pest management. Creating online resources.
  • Coordinator of a business partnership whose purpose is ti bring together students, scientific, academic and business communities to innovate for sustainable agrosystems.

Selected publications

  1. Ballini E., Morel JB., Droc G., Price A., Courtois B., Notteghem JL., Tharreau D. 2008. A genome-wide meta-analysis of rice blast resistance genes and quantitative trait loci provides new insights into partial and complete resistance. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, 21:859-868
  2. Ballini E., Nguyen TT. and Morel JB. 2013. Diversity and genetics of nitrogen-induced susceptibility to the blast fungus in rice and wheat. Rice, 6:32
  3. Ballini E., Lauter N. and Wise R. 2013. Prospects for Advancing Defense to Cereal Rusts through Genetical Genomics. Frontiers in Plant-Science, 4: 117
  4. Bidzinski P., Ballini E., Ducasse A., Michel C, Zuluaga P., Genga A., Chiozzotto R., Morel J-B. 2016. Transcriptional Basis of Drought-Induced Susceptibility to the Rice Blast Fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. Frontiers in Plant Science, 7 :1558.
  5. Huang H., Nguyen Thi Thu T., He X., Gravot A., Bernillon S., Ballini E., Morel JB. 2017. Increase of Fungal Pathogenicity and Role of Plant Glutamine in Nitrogen-Induced Susceptibility (NIS) To Rice Blast. Frontiers in Plant Science, 8:265.