Next generation disease resistance breeding in plants

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


Plant diseases represent a significant threat to global food security. One of the most notorious plant pathogens is the Irish potato famine organism Phytophthora infestans. P. infestans, the causal agent of potato and tomato late blight, continues to cost modern agriculture billions of euros annually. As part of a large collaborative grant, this project will build on the identification of core set of effector proteins in P. infestans that are likely critical for pathogenicity. It also builds on the knowledge that plant proteins targeted by P. infestans effectors are important components of the immune response, and new insights into how effectors are recognised by plant Resistance proteins.
Specifically, we aim to understand the molecular details of how three P. infestans effectors modulate plant immunity. To do this we will study how these three effectors associate with their plant targets. We will use protein/protein interaction assays, such as yeast-2-hybrid and co-immunoprecipitation (in planta), to define important regions for interaction and then interrogate the interactions in solution using recombinant proteins and a variety of biophysical approaches. We will determine the three-dimensional structures of the effectors, their identified plant targets and possibly the complexes. Finally, we will biochemically dissect effector-activated Resistance-protein immunity and ask to what extent are the plant effector targets important for this.
Description In this grant we investigated the structure and the function of so-called effector proteins from key plant pathogens, including the causative agent of the Irish potato famine, Phytophthora infestans. Amongst other investigations, we analysed the structure/function of an effector protein that interferes with a host cell process involved in intracellular trafficking. This has implications for understanding plant immunity and how we might be able to future-proof our food crops. This grant has also been instrumental in cementing long term national and international collaborations.
Exploitation Route Others may build on our research discoveries to further understand how plant pathogens cause disease in crops and how these plants can resist infection.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description International Rice Blast Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Conference attendance
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Plant Doctors day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Orgainsed/ran a "Plant Doctors" Day for ~55 Year 6 students at a local school with the Outreach team from the British Society for Plant Pathology
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014