Research conducted by the Laboratory of Nematology is part of the research program of the Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS) and the C.T. de Wit Graduate School for Production Ecology & Resource Conservation (PE&RC).
To secure food production, application of natural resistant crop varieties is increasingly important to control pathogens. However, many of the currently used resistances are broken down by emerging virulent strains or populations, or not even commercially available at the moment. Therefore, there is an urgent need for an increase in our understanding on how pathogens can avoid the recognition by the plants immune system and how immune system activation occurs.
Plant resistance relies often on dominant resistance (R) genes encoding intracellular immune receptors, which specifically recognize so called effectors secreted by invading pathogens. When resistant, an immune response will follow upon recognition. In our research, we focus on the immune receptor Gpa2 from potato which confers resistance to the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida by indirect recognition of the effector RBP-1. The co-factor Ran GTPase-activating protein 2 (RanGAP2) is required for a stable interaction between Gpa2 and RBP-1 in order to induce an immune response. However, little is known about the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind this tripartite model. In my project I aim to unravel these mechanisms using a structure-informed approach in combination with advanced micro(spectro)scopy. This allows in planta monitoring of the molecular and cellular dynamics of effector detection and immune receptor activation in living cells.
This research conducted by the Laboratory of Nematology is part of the research program of the Graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences (EPS).