Environmental modulation of plant-pathogen interactions: Molecular mechanisms and evolution

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office


The project is aimed to understand the molecular basis of environmental modulation and adaptive evolution of plant-pathogen interactions. Plant-microbe interactions are influenced by environmental factors e.g. temperature. Plants are increasingly susceptible to diseases at higher temperatures. Climate change, especially increasing temperatures continue to result in increased severity and geographical range expansion of plant diseases. While elevated temperatures suppress resistance, plants also have the ability to enhance defenses in response to the biotic and abiotic environments. For example, interactions with non-pathogenic rhizobacteria such as Pseudomonas fluorescens impart broad-range resistance by facilitating a rapid and strong induction of defense genes upon subsequent pathogen infection – a process termed priming. In spite of their implications in agriculture and food security, neither of these processes is sufficiently well understood for potential applicability. Studies will be focused to understand: (1) The molecular underpinnings of defense gene regulation, (2) Molecular mechanisms underlying the influence of temperature and priming on defense gene regulation and disease resistance, and (3) How plants adapt their defense mechanisms to suit the local environment. Knowledge gathered from Arabidopsis will be used to devise crop (e.g. Brassica) improvement strategies for climate resilient and sustainable disease resistance.


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