Projects

We are currently advertising DTP and CASE studentships for October 2019 start. The deadline for applications is the 26th November 2018.

26 / 09 / 2018

Under attack by a cereal killer: deciphering host responses (SAUNDERS_J19DTP1)

how to apply

Wheat rusts have been associated with crop failures and famine throughout history, with the potential to lead to total crop loss in untreated susceptible varieties. The devastating impact of these diseases gives a deep sense of urgency to improve our understanding of the plant processes they manipulate to improve the longevity of newly deployed resistant cultivars. During early infection, plants perceive signatures of invasion known as pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) that activates PAMP-triggered immunity. This initiates a series of metabolic processes that includes the production of a number of defence signalling molecules within chloroplasts. Understanding how these metabolic processes are altered during infection could reveal new targets for manipulation to enhance broad-spectrum disease resistance.

In the Saunders Lab we have identified a number of specific EMS wheat mutants in nuclear-encoded chloroplast-linked genes that show a reduction in wheat rust infection. This discovery provides the foundation to further characterize the role of these genes in the immune response. In this studentship the candidate will use various targeted techniques for gene disruption such as virus-induced gene silencing and CRISPR, alongside plant pathology and cell biology techniques to monitor pathogen progression. This project provides a unique opportunity to join two leading multidisciplinary research teams at the John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory, which are centers of excellence in plant science and plant-microbe interactions.