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Plant-Microbe Interaction Mechanisms

Nicotiana benthamiana
Nicotiana benthamiana, for which a draft genome sequence is available, is a widely used plant species for molecular plant-microbe/insect interaction research. The plant (in center) is susceptible to attack by insects (top left), viruses (top right), as well as oomycetes and nematodes (not shown). Credits: Clare Casteel, Georg Jander, Martin Dickman, Budhi Tiwari, Simon Schwizer, Kent Loeffler, and Gregory Martin.

A major focus of the Department of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology is to contribute to knowledge of the underlying mechanisms involved in the interactions of plants with pathogens and symbionts.  Research programs in this area of study typically use an experimental model system to uncover molecular components in the host or microbe; they subsequently determine how these components either promote or inhibit the host-microbe interaction.  In most cases, the model interactions studied underlie economically important diseases or symbioses.

A TAL effector "SUPER" Helix
Artwork by Jon Bogdanove
A TAL effector "SUPER" Helix

In this program, researchers use the full range of modern scientific techniques, including biochemistry, bioinformatics, chemistry, genetics, genomics, molecular and cellular biology, proteomics, and structural biology. Use of these diverse approaches often leads to collaborations with researchers in multiple disciplines outside Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology.