Plants have evolved sophisticated mechanisms of immunity against pathogens that limit the spread of disease and induce protection of systemic healthy tissues from secondary infections.
The latter form of defence is called systemic acquired resistance (SAR) and is induced distally in plants by pathogens that trigger a local resistance response including programmed cell death. In essence, the plant sacrifices locally infected tissues to protect remaining cells from damage.
Processes controlling local defence are increasingly well defined but the nature of long distance signals that induce SAR is a major outstanding question in plant biology today. SAR is a long-lasting potentiated state of resistance that acts against a broad range of pathogens. In this primed state, defences are not constitutively activated but are more rapidly and effectively triggered by subsequent pathogen attack.
In agriculture, artificial induction of known defences can protect crops against disease but the energy costs are high to the pl ant and the crop yield penalty therefore severe. An important scientific breakthrough would be to identify plant signals, such as those controlling SAR, that potentiate defences against a broad range of pathogens without significant loss of yield.
This project will apply state-of-the-art proteomics and lipid profiling technologies at high resolution to two model plants, Arabidopsis and Nicotiana benthamiana, in a comprehensive study to identify protein and lipid-derived SAR signals in crucifer and solanaceous plant species.
A multi-disciplinary approach combining genetics, pathology, and molecular biology will be used to validate newly identified SAR signals and track movement of signals in the plant upon SAR induction.
The project will provide a solid basis, including materials, for a future independent research programme and maturation of science-related skills towards the fellows independent research career in Europe.
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