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Project overview

Integrative Biology of Arabidopsis Defence Signalling Networks activated by Botrytis cinerea



Introduction 


Botrytis cinerea is a necrotrophic fungal pathogen, unlike biotrophic (parasitic) pathogens B. cinerea requires host cell death to complete its life cycle (Fig. 1). B. cinerea affects a vast number of economically important crops. This broad host range together with variable host susceptibility as well as variation in pathogen virulence suggests an interesting and complex underlying plant-pathogen interaction.

Figure 1. Vegetative B. cinerea growth in A. thaliana  leaf tissue. Fungal hyphae stained dark blue, note host cell death zone preceding fungal hyphae into uninfected tissue.

Figure 1. Vegetative B. cinerea growth in A. thaliana leaf tissue. Fungal hyphae stained dark blue, note host cell death zone preceding fungal hyphae movement into uninfected tissue.



 
Aims and Methods


The aim of this research project is to elucidate transcriptional gene regulatory networks in Arabidopsis thaliana activated in response to B. cinerea infection.

Two approaches are being used:
The first involves a bulk T-DNA screening method to search for knockout mutants of potential signalling factors identified in earlier microarray studies with altered suseptibility to B. cinerea.

The second is a Systems biology approach where gene regulatory networks will be inferred using a state space modelling method which utilises gene expression profile time series data and prior information to infer network models.




Conclusions


The bulk T-DNA screening approach is a very time consuming and inefficient way of identifying key regulatory elements of transcriptional gene regulatory networks.

The Systems Biology approach combining the power of high resolution expression profile time series, statistical computational analysis and independent experimental validation of modelling results been markedly more successful at identifying key network components activated in by B. cinerea infection.