‘Innate immunity signalling and resistance/fitness outcomes in plants’
We’re studying plant host interactions with biotrophic pathogens to understand how intracellular innate immunity pathways operate as part of an intricate stress response network. We use Arabidopsis thaliana as our model genetic system to characterize basic resistance signalling mechanisms and pathway intersections. This plant also serves as a good point of reference to ask whether the same rules apply to stress network properties in other plant species. I’ll describe two current projects. In the first, we’re making some progress in understanding how the activation of plant intracellular immune receptors (NLRs) by pathogen molecules connects to the transcriptional machinery to reprogram cells for defence. In the second, we’re exploring how a functionally interesting NLR receptor ‘Resistance’ gene cluster behaves in a natural Arabidopsis thaliana population. Here we hope to gain insights to evolutionary and ecological forces underlying plant immune receptor maintenance and diversification in nature.