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Professor Murray Grant

Job Title
Professor
Department
Life Sciences
Research Interests

Elizabeth Creak Chair in Food Security

My research interests centre around plant-microbe interactions with a predominate focus on host responses to pathogenic bacteria. We also study the mechanisms underpinning biocontrol and plant growth promotion conferred by beneficial fungi and have interest in applying our general expertise to emerging tree diseases.

We deploy interdisciplinary approaches such as real time imaging, physiology, reverse genetics, a range of "omics" techniques (including untargeted metabolomics) and network inference modelling to study the dynamics and molecular basis of three fundamental outcomes of plant-pathogen interactions; suppression of defence, gene-for-gene resistance and the early events involved in propagating systemic immunity.

Notable contributions to the field include the first map-based cloning of a dual recognition resistance gene, RPM1 ; the first evolutionary study of an R gene; the first real time measurement of in planta cytosolic calcium changes during a resistance response; the first functional characterisation of an evolutionarily conserved plant inhibitor of apoptosis; the first description on how pathogen effector proteins modulate defence networks. More recently we have studied phytohormone cross talk in moulding the outcome of plant defences responses. We are particularly interested in exploring; (i) the key role ABA plays in hijacking plant defence and (ii) an unexpected contribution of jasmonates and auxin in systemic immunity. We are currently using synthetic biology approaches to re-wire these pathways thus interfering with pathogen virulence strategies. A more recent discovery that the chloroplast is a key player in orchestrating effective innate immune responses and is targeted by pathogen effectors mechanistically links disease with yield loss.

A remarkable 40% of the proteome of the saprophytic fungus Trichoderma hamatum is unique compared to other Trichoderma spp. Using a combination of metabolomic and transcriptomic informed targeted mutagenesis, we are studying whether this additional genetic material encodes novel chemistries that contribute to T. hamatum's remarkable plant growth promotion and biocontrol activities.

Biography

PhD Biochemistry, Otago University, New Zealand. 1988
BSc (first class) Biochemistry, Otago University, New Zealand. 1983

Title Funder Award start Award end
Xanthomonas plant diseases: mitigating existing, emerging and future threats to UK agriculture BBSRC 01 Aug 2020 31 Jul 2023
China Partnering Award: Does chloroplast reactive oxygen underpin plant disease resistance? BBSRC 01 Jul 2019 30 Jun 2022
US Partnering Award: The role of the chloroplast in activation of systemic immunity BBSRC 01 Apr 2018 31 Mar 2022
Understanding the mechanism of chloroplast immunity BBSRC 01 Jan 2017 31 May 2021
Retaining the Ashes: The potential for ash populations to be restored following the dieback epidemic BBSRC 09 Aug 2018 07 Feb 2021
Towards engineering disease resistance in Banana to Fusarium Wilt - avoiding the next apocalypse Royal Society 01 Dec 2017 30 Nov 2020
Developing analytical methods to determine the role of NAD and ADP-ribosylation in plant defence and disease (Daniel Pap) Undergraduate Vacation Bursary British Society for Plant Pathology 27 Jul 2020 26 Sep 2020
A role for 3 prime O beta ribofuranosyladenosine in altering plant immunity Royal Society 30 Nov 2018 25 Apr 2019
(Susan Breen) Vacation studentship for Nicole Hargreaves:Investigating the role of the Chloroplast in Plant Immunity British Society for Plant Pathology 02 Jul 2018 01 Sep 2018
16ALERT: Mid-Range Equipment Initiative: A high sensitivity triple quadruple mass spectrometer coupled to an ultra-high pressure liquid chromatograph system for quantitative analysis BBSRC 01 Jul 2017 30 Jun 2018
Towards protecting the UK landscape; a novel method to screen for resistance to ash dieback while mitigating herbivory tradeoffs BBSRC 01 Oct 2016 31 Mar 2018
Re-engineering plant defenses to nullify phytopathogen virulence strategies Leverhulme Trust 25 Apr 2016 14 Sep 2017
Vacation Studentship for Breagha Magill - The role of truncated R proteins in plant-pathogen interactions British Society for Plant Pathology 19 Jun 2017 18 Aug 2017
Enhancing human health and food security through disease resistant, biofortified bananas BBSRC 15 Sep 2016 31 Dec 2016