Engineering plants with durable resistance to pathogens

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


A major challenge for the coming years is to provide sufficient food for an increasing number of people. Global demand for natural resources and the decreasing area of arable land are driving up the costs of energy and food. Therefore, it is of great importance to increase current crop production in a sustainable manner. Minimizing agricultural losses from pathogens will substantially increase crop yield and decrease the cost of food production.
During the last decades, the field of plant-microbe interactions has made impressive progress revealing the basic architecture of the plant immune system. We now know that through evolution, plants have developed receptors that recognize pathogenic microbes. Currently the main strategy to combat diseases in field conditions is the transfer of receptors from wild plants to crops using molecular techniques. However, this resistance is unfortunately often rapidly overcome in agriculture by fast evolving pathogenic microbial populations.
Work leading to this PhD proposal gave us a better understanding of how receptors in plants are activated at the molecular level after microbe perception. We have discovered truncated versions of these receptors acting as signal transducers and amplifiers. This PhD proposal aims to engineer robustness into these receptors using a combination of synthetic biology and biochemical approaches in order to develop the next generation of pathogen sensor technology.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M01116X/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1782615 Studentship BB/M01116X/1 03/10/2016 30/03/2021 Anastasia Kanali