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Understanding how plant R proteins function – let’s address a 25 year drought!

Principal Supervisor: Professor Murray Grant, School of Life Sciences

Co-supervisors: Dr Alex Jones

PhD project title: Understanding how plant R proteins function – let’s address a 25 year drought!

University of Registration: University of Warwick

Project outline:

Plant disease resistance genes (R) are the primary tool plant breeders can use to protect elite crop varieties from pathogens. However, despite having identified these more than 25 years ago we don’t understand how R proteins function. This project addresses a fundamental challenge; how activated (post pathogen recognition) plant resistance proteins function to elicit the hypersensitive response (HR) and how they are regulated.

This proposal builds on extensive background data that has discovered an important role for targeted proteolysis in regulation of R proteins. It will involve characterising 2 proteins that interact with the plant disease resistance protein RPM1, called RIN12 and RIN13. These are respectively, a protease inhibitor and a putative protease with predicted complementary roles in regulating RPM1 activity. Thus this is a unique opportunity to study, for the first time, the role for targeted proteolysis in regulation of R protein signaling.

This project will apply biochemical, proteomic and genetic methods (T-DNA mutants – CRISPR gene editing) to complete characterisation of these proteins and provide some of the first evidence of mechanisms that activate and deactivate plant diseae resistance proteins.

BBSRC Strategic Research Priority: Food Security

Techniques that will be undertaken during the project:

Protein expression, 2-hybrid interactions, peptide mapping, transient expression in Nicotiana, generation of stable transformed Arabidopsis, biochemistry (protease and protease inhibitor assays, chromatography; affinity & size exclusion), CRISPR gene editing, mass spectrometry, confocal microscopy.

Contact: Professor Murray Grant, University of Warwick