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How does Nitric Oxide (NO) regulate crop pathogen virulence?


Fungal pathogens cause disease in important cereal and horticultural crop plants dramatically reducing yields and quality. Preventing fungal disease in crop plants would ensure global food security and reduce agricultural inputs with respect to fungicide application. Following the recognition of microbial attack both plants and animals produce a nitric oxide (NO) burst which is directly antimicrobial. However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying how NO inhibits pathogen growth, in particular with regards to fungal pathogens. During plant infection fungal pathogens secrete virulence proteins (effectors) to suppress the immune response and alter host metabolism. There is emerging evidence that NO targets and alters these secreted effectors. NO is able to post-translationally modify proteins by reacting with specific cysteine residues to form an S-nitrosothiol (SNO), subsequently controlling protein activity and function. This project aims to investigate the influence NO has on fungal crop pathogens during attempted infection of the plant host. The mechanisms that these pathogens might use in order to detoxify NO to avoid its antimicrobial effects will be identified and investigated. Pathogen effectors that are S-nitrosylated during infection will be identified and the impact on virulence elucidated. Understanding the role NO has on pathogenic fungi during attempted colonisation of the plant host will allow new broad spectrum resistance strategies to be developed to control these important crop pathogens.

Call for proposal

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Funding Scheme

MC-CIG - Support for training and career development of researcher (CIG)


4 Dublin
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 100 000
Administrative Contact
Donal Doolan (Mr.)