BSPP News Autumn 2002 - Online Edition

The Newsletter of the British Society for Plant Pathology
Number 43, Autumn 2002 

A Week in the Life of the Ph.D. students in the Gurr Lab

Mother Cell:   Dr Sarah Gurr

Primary Germlings:

Dr Ziguo Zhang (BBSRC) - microarrays and gene silencing in Blumeria graminis

Dr Pushpa Chaure - microarray transformation in B. graminis

Secondary Germlings:

Keith Stewart (BBSRC and CASE SCRI) - mlo and gene expression
Gemma Priddey (BBSRC and CASE Aventis) - kinase signalling  appressorial differentiation in B. graminis

Emma Perfect (BBSRC and CASE Syngenta) - roles for the extra cellular matrix in signalling and adhesion

Catherine Henderson (BBSRC and CASE Syngenta) - oxidative stress signalling in B. graminis

 Zena Robinson (research assistant)



Checked on the plants after the weekend, all very happy and infected. Spores Galore!

Off to work, setting up the never-ending scoring experiments. As Sarah says, it may be boring but there's data from scoring! 

Coffee conversations gave a chance to discuss the week ahead and the forthcoming sporulation event (Zena is soon to give birth to twins). It seems quieter without Keith, who's hard at work on his Wain Fellowship at Risø, Denmark.

Back to the microscope to see how the spores are doing. Fun-filled afternoon trying to make Excel behave. 
Ziguo stuns us with his ideas for exciting new techniques in the week's lab meeting. Pushpa groans! We discuss the potential for gene silencing in Blumeria graminis


Gemma looks smug about her Magnaporthe; brandishing petri-dishes overflowing with tissue. Meanwhile Catherine and Emma spend hours hoovering up Blumeria graminis spores in the greenhouse to get just half an eppendorf-full. Working with an obligate biotroph is frequently quite a challenge!

Gemma spends all morning grinding her copious amounts of tissue (risking frostbite in the name of science) ready for her afternoon of genomic DNA extractions. Will she have transformed the Magnaporthe pmk1 mutant with the Blumeria graminis homologue? Watch this space ..


Catherine spends the morning pipetting to prepare her semi-quantitative RT-PCR reactions (risking RSI for the plant pathology cause). Are those genes regulated over the first twenty hours of B. graminis development? Then it's Catherine's turn to pot up, inoculate the plants, and keep the greenhouse in order. 


Emma impersonates Kylie with her 'spinning' experiments. She keeps fit by running from one side of the department to the other to infect her slides, centrifuging them, before counting the number of spores remaining. Just how sticky are those spores? Watch out Pritt-Stick there could be competition!
The weekly departmental seminar reminds us that there are organisms other than fungi in the world. 


Experiments are put on hold to make way for Oxford's first Plant Microbe Interactions day, organised by Dr. Gail Preston. A diverse collection of talks were presented and enjoyed. Perhaps this will serve to both initiate and reinforce collaborative links between different departments. 

We leave the department after a busy week (we do work more than one day a week each!). We get on well as a lab and as part of our lab socialising we're off to our weekly salsa lesson - so there'll be competition for the dance floor at the next BSPP conference!!