Chromatin remodelling and its conserved role in plant immunity

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: School of Life Sciences


A major common part of plant immune responses is the reprogramming of gene expression. Activation of receptors significantly alters the expression of the plant genome, enabling cellular defence responses to be activated. However, activation of immunity comes with a severe developmental trade-off assumed to be necessary in order to prioritize defence over growth-related cellular functions.
Chromatin remodelling is a major regulator of transcription that plays a crucial role in plant growth, and immunity. We have identified a Chromatin-Remodelling Enzyme (CRE1) altering plant homeostasis in a manner that simultaneously increases immunity and growth - pathways that typically act antagonistically. The Arabidopsis mutant of this enzyme (cre1) has enhanced leaf area, increased root length and is more resistant to pathogens. Most importantly, under stress condition the cre1 has bigger leaf area and produces more seeds than the wild type plants. We are interested to exploit the high level of conservation of these enzymes across plant lineages in an effort to engineer high performing tomato and Brassica plants with increased resistance to pathogens, yet minimal impact upon growth. Two main lines of research are considered; gene editing of CRE1 using CRISPR technology and developing chemical inhibitors of the enzyme for foliar applications.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1642852 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 05/10/2015 30/09/2019 Anna Gonzalez Gil