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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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Plantes et Système de cultures Horticoles

Zone de texte éditable et éditée et rééditée

Hélène Gautier

Hélène Gautier
Director of research

Dept. Environment and Agronomy

Team: Regulation of Bioaggressors by Plants

Team: Growth Architecture and Quality


1988 – Diploma in Agricultural engineering, École Nationale Supérieure d'Agronomie et des Industries Alimentaires, Nancy, France

1991 - PhD thesis in Plant Physiology, University of Toulouse and Cadarache Center, CEA, Saint Paul lez Durance, France: "Physiology of stomata. Response of guard cell protoplasts to blue light".

2010 – HDR, Accreditation to supervise research in Sciences and Agrosciences, Avignon University, France, "The plant and its light environment: from the cell to the plant canopy".

Research topics

Since 2010, I am interested in the greening of farming practices for a sustainable and quality production of fruits and vegetables. In particular, I am looking for alternatives to the use of pesticides to reduce aphid pressure. The aim of this work in chemical ecology is to identify so-called Companion Plants (CP), which can act directly on aphids by (i) a masking or repellent effect, (ii) a disruption of feeding behaviour, (iii) or a reduction in fecundity, or indirectly by modifying the composition of the host plant. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted by the CP are collected and analysed in search of correlations between the volatile compounds profiles of CP and their repellent effects on different aphids (Myzus persicae, Dysaphis plantaginea, Aphis gossypii, etc.). Within the framework of the PIA project "Cap Zero Phyto", the CP of interest will be tested in the orchard and in the greenhouse in order to select the most effective chemotypes that will be combined with other levers aimed at stimulating plant immunity (reduction of nitrogen fertilisation, UV-C flashes, plant protection products (PPP), etc.) in order to propose new management strategies for the control of the main pests in fruit and vegetable production.

Since 2001, I have also been studying the effects of cultivation practices (irrigation with salt water, planting density, leaf removal, reduction of nitrogen input) and the climatic environment (light, temperature, shading, etc.) with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the joint effects of the genome and the environment on the organoleptic and nutritional quality of fruit. I am particularly interested in the effects of different adaptation strategies to climate change (shading by photovoltaic panels or agroforestry) and in the characterisation of the effects of changes in the microclimatic environment on the plant physiology and its production specially sugars, acids and antioxidant compounds content in fruit and vegetables. The applied objective is to determine the combinations of pre- and post-harvest environmental conditions that optimise resource use efficiency and the taste and nutritional qualities of the fruit and vegetables produced.

Between 1998 and 2000, at the Bioclimatologie Unit (INRA, Avignon), I studied the effects of changes in the climatic environment (Vapor Pressure Deficit, temperature, ...) and cultural practices (fruit pruning, irrigation and planting density) on plant growth and architecture of tomato. The applied objective was to help the maintenance of high tomato production and good quality during the summer period in the greenhouse.

Between 1992 and 1997, I studied the morphogenetic responses of forage plants to their light environment, i.e. how the growth and architecture of these plants could be modified according to their light environment (INRA, Lusignan). I simulated shading conditions by vegetation (decrease of blue and light red light and increase of far red light, ...) or neutral shading (decrease of photosynthetically active radiation) in order to determine the respective role of photoreceptors in morphogenetic responses. The applied objective was to define the optimal cultural practices (frequency, intensity of mowing or grazing) to maintain and perpetuate the balance and diversity of forage plant associations.

 Main responsibilities

- Leader of a team ‘Ecophysiology and Fruit Quality » in my unit PSH, Plant and crop Systems in Horticulture, INRA France (2011-2013, Permanent staff: 11 scientists and engineers, 5 technicians, 7 PhD)

- Leader of the research unit PSH, Plant and crop Systems in Horticulture, INRA Avignon France (2014-2021, 28 scientists and engineers, 13 technicians, 12 PhD and pre- and postdoc)

- Member of the french Scientific Committee of the National plan to fight the decline of the vineyard (2017-today)

- Member of the Scientific Committee of Avignon University (2016-today)

- Coordinator of the PIA research program Cap Zero Phyto (towards zero pesticides, 2021-2026, 11 partners)

Recent Publications

Juan Ruiz-Nieves, Oscar Ayala-Garay, Valérie Serra, Doriane Dumont, Gilles Vercambre, Michel Génard, Hélène Gautier. The effects of diurnal temperature rise on tomato fruit quality. Can the management of the greenhouse climate mitigate such effects?. Scientia Horticulturae, 2021, 278, pp.109836. ⟨10.1016/j.scienta.2020.109836⟩. ⟨hal-03118905⟩

Ludivine Laffon, Armin Bischoff, Hélène Gautier, Florent Gilles, Laurent Gomez, et al.. Conservation Biological Control of Codling Moth (Cydia pomonella): Effects of Two Aromatic Plants, Basil (Ocimum basilicum) and French Marigolds (Tagetes patula). Insects, 2022, 13 (10), pp.908. ⟨10.3390/insects13100908⟩


Recent projects

  • "API-Tree" (European project C-IPM 2018-2021), led by A. Alaphilippe (UERI Gotheron), involves several teams from northern and southern Europe and focuses on the control of apple pests. The objective is to design and evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of a combination of alternative practices to chemical products. 
  • "MultiServ" (INRAE Metaprogramme SuMCrop, 2020-2022), which I am co-leading, aims to evaluate the effects of using companion plants and beneficial microorganisms in order to design vegetable cropping systems that optimise pest regulation services while limiting dis-services. It will continue in 2022 and 2023 (recrea2 metaprogram SuMCrop) in order to study the interactions between companion plants and mycorrhizal fungi to help control nematodes and aphids on peppers. 

Contact details 

French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE)

UR 1115 Plants and Cropping Systems in Horticulture (Plantes et Systèmes de culture Horticoles)

INRAE PSH Unit (UR 1115), Domaine St Paul, Site agroparc

CS 40509, 84914 Avignon Cedex 9, France

Tel : (33) 432 72 23 45, Email :