Co-evolution of virulence and recognition in rice blast disease

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office


Plant diseases are a continuous threat to food production and a major constraint on achieving food security. Receptors of the plant immune system are critical agents in the fight against infection. One set of plant immunoreceptors detect the presence of host-translocated pathogen effector proteins and trigger defence responses. One approach to try and solve the problem of plant diseases is to understand the molecular basis of interactions between plant immunoreceptors and the effectors they have evolved to detect. This allows engineering of these interactions to improve disease resistance. Further, understanding how effectors function in the plant cell, how they promote pathogen growth and disease progression, is fundamentally interesting but also offers opportunity to interfere with disease processes.

This project will focus on a family of effector proteins from the most devastating pathogen of rice, the fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. The student will apply biochemical, biophysical, structural and in planta approaches to probe direct physical interactions ("handshakes") between different proteins that help promote disease and trigger resistance respectively. They will test the effects of varying the interfaces of these proteins in vitro and, working with collaborators in Japan, can have their predictions from in vitro experiments tested in vivo.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1654182 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2019 Josephine Maidment
Description Protein Crystallography Stall 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Designed and delivered activities relating to protein crystallography to the general public. The stall was first run as part of an Institute Open Day, attended by over 3000 members of the general public, and then was taken to the Norwich Science Festival as part of the Learning Week programme. Pupils from local schools attended the Learning Week and engaged with our stall.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017