BSc Thesis Topic: Unravelling R gene mediated plant immunity

Plants have evolved a sophisticated defence system based on so called R genes, encoding immune receptors which are able to recognize cognate effector molecules released by invading pathogens.

This leads to the activation of a resistance response that blocks the pathogen from further spreading. Co-evolution between pathogen and host has resulted in the presence of a whole arsenal of R genes in the plant genome and a pallet of highly diverse effector molecules in various pathogens. We want to understand a) how plant immune receptors are able to recognize these pathogen effector molecules, b) how plant immune receptors are able to provoke a resistance response and c) how co-evolution between pathogens and plants results in immune receptor and effector diversity. This will be achieved by performing structure-function analyses, protein-protein interaction studies (CoIP, FRET, etc), cellular localisation studies and bioinformatics. 

Secondary structure prediction of the R protein Rx1's coiled coil domain and localization patterns of GFP-fused fragments of the coiled coil. Picture: Erik Slootweg
Secondary structure prediction of the R protein Rx1's coiled coil domain and localization patterns of GFP-fused fragments of the coiled coil. Picture: Erik Slootweg