Cell death has a central role in innate immune responses in both animals and plants. The hypersensitive response (HR) is a plant-specific form of programmed cell death (PCD) occurring at the site of attempted pathogen invasion. A tight regulation of HR is essential in order to avoid unnecessary tissue damage beyond the infection site. However, the signaling pathways leading to HR still remain ill-defined. We have shown that Arabidopsis metacaspases antagonistically control pathogen-triggered HR. This project focuses on studying the precise molecular mechanisms underlying PCD control by this family of proteins. I have built a very broad platform of genetic and molecular tools that I can now use moving forward with research questions that will continue informing plant and animal biologists.
We will use a multidisciplinary approach, benefitting from transnational collaborations already established by the candidate with EU countries and the USA, which will ensure the continuity of the candidate’s high-impact research in the host institute, an emerging reference center for plant sciences. Our project aims at understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying pathogen-triggered HR cell death control by metacaspases in Arabidopsis and the role of metacaspases in developmental PCD. This knowledge will be translated into melon, by analyzing the role of melon metacaspases in HR cell death triggered by economically relevant pathogens in this horticultural model crop species. Findings derived this study could be extended to other pathosystems, to increase production in the field, and will help establishing the host institution as the reference center for melon research. A Marie Curie Career Integration Grant will allow reintegration of the candidate and establishment of a platform where the expertise of the candidate will complement and synergize with that of the host groups and receiving institution, contributing to European excellence.
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