Brown algae make up over 70% of the biomass on cold and temperate rocky shores. Like any other living organism, they are plagued by diseases caused by fungi, bacteria or viruses.
This is of ecological importance since populations are periodically decimated. However, molecular data in this field are scarce. In the last years, major technical improvements have been made in the field of large-scale protein and natural products identification.
Moreover, the first ever complete DNA sequence of a seaweed, the brown alga Ectocarpus siliculosus, will soon be completed, making it the model of choice in algal biology in the foreseeable future.
This project aims to transfer the expertise of the fellow in genomics from the model plant Arabidopsis to this emerging marine algal equivalent. It focuses on algal defence responses induced by the ecologically and evolutionarily important pathogen Eurychasma.
Firstly, several hundreds Ectocarpus strains held in the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa (the European largest facility in this field) will be screened for sensitivity or resistance to this fungus. A description of the infection process will be provided.
Then, by comparing the differences between a susceptible and a resistant strain at both the metabolic and protein levels, factors involved in the resistance of the alga against the fungus will be identified. This will set a basis for future comparisons on how algae, animals and plants defend themselves against infection. It will offer an insight into Eurychasma infection strategies, which are likely to be shared by its devastating relatives like grape and potato blights.
This work will foster networking within the European Union whilst transferring know-how between organisations traditionally operating in distinct spheres (plant vs marine biology). Collaboration with leading laboratories in proteomics and metabolomics will ensure the training of the fellow in these emerging fields.
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