Welcome to my ePortfolio, I am in the school of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick and have just submitted my PhD thesis.
Previously I studied for a BA (Hons) in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford where I became interested in the field of plant pathology.
Previous Research Projects:
April-June 2010: Systems Biology of Plant Defence: From Lab to Field.
Working with Katherine Denby, Paul Hand and David Pink. Botrytis cinerea is a necrotrophic fungal pathogen which infects many commercially important crops such as lettuces, resulting in lesions of soft rot. This project aimed to establish whether there is a diversity in susceptibility between lettuce varieties and whether the lettuce defense response is similar to that of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
January-March 2010: Verifying the Role of Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis Effector Proteins in Suppressing Host Defence Mechanisms
Supervised by Dr Jens Steinbrenner and Professor Jim Beynon. This project involved cloning of 'RxLR' effector proteins from H. arabidopsidis into a delivery system utilising the type III secretion system of Pseudomonas syringae, allowing their individual contributions to virulence to be assayed.
Skills: GatewayTM and classical cloning, western blotting, P. syringae growth assays, callose deposition, and conductivity assays to detect ion leakage.
June-August 2008: The role of Rab GTPases in plant pathogen interactions.
Project supervised by Gail Preston and Ian Moore. This project examined the involvement of the RabGTPases in plant-pathogen interactions.
•Skills: Callose staining, ROS staining, confocal microscopy and pathogen growth assays for Pseudomonas syringae and Xanthomonas campestris.
My linked in profile can be found here.
Project Title: Revealing the Plant Immune Response Network
Supervisors: Professor Jim Beynon.
The oomycetes are a group of eukaryotes which have been described as ‘fungus-like’ although they belong to the kingdom Stramenopiles and are more closely related to brown algae and diatoms than higher fungi. Oomycete pathogens are responsible for many devastating diseases of agricultural crops as well as ornamental and native plants, including Phytophthora infestans, the causative agent of late blight of potato which resulted in the deaths of 1.25 people during the Irish Potato famine of 1845 and still causes annual crop losses worth 4.8 billion Euros. A model system that can be used to investigate the relationship between oomycetes and their host plants is that of Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (formerly classified as Peronospora parasitica), a naturally occurring pathogen which causes downy mildew of Arabidopsis thaliana. It is hoped that by studying this system, results will then be able to be applied to related economically important crops, particularly close relatives of Arabidopsis within the Brassicaceae.
Plants, like animals, have many layers of both constitutive and induced defence responses and in order for successful colonisation, a biotrophic pathogen must suppress or evade these. H. arabidopsidis and many other pathogens achieve this through secretion of effector proteins into the plant and bring about a state of effector-triggered susceptibility. Genetic mapping initially allowed the identification and cloning of four effector genes from oomycete pathogens, alignment of which revealed a conserved amino acid sequence at the N-terminus with the consensus sequence RxLR (arginine, any, leucine, arginine). Bioinformatic approaches have since been used to identify over 250 putative effector proteins from the H. arabidopsidis genome that contain this conserved motif.
My PhD project aims to investigate a putative effector protein, and the networks of proteins which it have been shown to interact with by a large scale yeast two-hybrid screen. Initial screens have also shown that plants over-expressing this protein has an increase in susceptibility to a range of pathogens.
For more details on my research please click here or follow the links on the left navigation.