Molecular Reprogramming and Evolution (MoRE)

Group leader: Ignacio Rubio-Somoza

Research project:

Evolution of plant antiviral defences Plants live in complex environments in continuous interaction with other organisms. Within those interactions, plants need to recognize and defend themselves from potential threats. Viruses are arguably a major threat to plant survival leading to important crop losses every year. The recently emerged discipline of EvoMPMI (Evolution of molecular microbe-plant interactions) relies on comparing the defense mechanisms employed by plant species with different evolutionary trajectories to discover conserved and novel defensive approaches. Thus, studying the defense mechanisms that different plant species deploy against viruses will potentially unravel molecular targets for rational intervention towards achieving varieties with better performance under pathogen pressure. A core interest at the Molecular reprogramming and evolution laboratory (MoRE lab) is in studying EvoMPMI. The PhD project will build upon results generated in the lab from characterizing the antiviral response in Marchantia polymorpha. Marchantia polymorpha is a non-vascular plant which has recently emerged as a model organism for comparative studies both related to development and defense. Interestingly, vascular tissue is central for viral infection in a huge variety of plant species, including crops. The PhD candidate will compare the molecular events that enable antiviral defense in Marchantia polymorpha, Arabidopsis thaliana and Nicotiana benthamiana. She/He will focus on the characterization of transcription factors (TF) that participate in Marchantia antiviral defence and their orthologs in both vascular species. Preliminary results show that a TF from Marchantia is able to abrogate viral infection when expressed in Nicotiana. We will leverage state-of-the-art technologies in genomics (DAP- and RNA-seq), cell biology (high resolution microscopy) and biochemistry in those comparative studies.

Key publication

Potential collaborations with other research groups

Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ)

Basic immune system of plants/Hirofumi Nakagami

John Innes Centre

Plant Healt/ Phil Carella

Potential collaborations with associated partners

  • Agro and plant biotech companies

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