Elucidating the effector-delivery system of aphids (HOGENHOUT_J17DTP)

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


The green peach aphid (GPA), Myzus persicae, and other insects produce virulence proteins (effectors) in their saliva that interact with plant proteins (targets) to modulate key plant processes, such as plant defense responses, that make the plants more susceptible to aphid colonization. Work in the Hogenhout lab has focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms by which effector proteins act on host plants. This project aims to understand the mechanism by which aphids regulate the delivery of effector proteins into the plant.

Recent work in the lab has shown that aphid effector proteins interact with each other, and with components of the aphid chitin exoskeleton in a complex network. This project will build on this work, and test the hypothesis that the interactions of the effectors and the exoskeleton, coupled with transcriptional regulation, controls the release of effector proteins into the host plant.

The student will,
Test protein-protein interactions of aphid effectors to define the interaction network, and test their function by RNAi-mediated gene silencing in aphids.

Investigate the localization of the effector proteins in aphids stylets and plant tissues using immunogold labeling and fluorescent tags combined with transmission electron and confocal microscopy.

Examine if the aphid exoskeleton plays a role in the delivery of effector proteins by silencing the expression of exoskeleton components.

If successful, the project will uncover a fundamental aspect of plant-insect interactions, which will be valuable in the search for novel methods of insect pest control in crop plants.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1916107 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021 James Douglas Canham