|Title of Project|
|Boosting plant disease resistance through RNAi hairpin introduction|
|This project going to be…|
|Full Name of Supervisor|
|Institution Department and Address|
Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NJ
|Full name of the day to day supervisor and/or arrangements for supervision|
|Dr Helen Cockerton will be the primary supervisor of the student. Dr Cockerton has recently taken up a position as a research fellow, as part of her new role she is setting up plant pathology facilities at the University of Kent. The student will be supported day to day by Dr Cockerton. The student will become incorporated in all group lab meetings and will be encourage to attend seminars, they will also interact with other members of the Kent Fungal Group laboratory.|
|Date of Project Commencement|
|Brief Description of Project|
|Plant pathogens can cause extensive damage to crops, and if left untreated, epidemics can lead to complete crop destruction. New biotechnologies such as Host Induced Gene Silencing (HIGS) can be used to provide an environmentally friendly strategy for disease control. Here we ask whether RNAi hair pins can boost baseline plant immunity or whether targeted hair pins are required to generate disease resistant plants.
Published work has shown that exogenous application of random siRNA can create disease resistant plants through the upregulation of pathogen triggered immunity. Preliminary data suggests that “internally generated” siRNA produced through the introduction of a hairpin can also upregulate a plants base line immunity, irrespective of the hair pin target. Here we will study whether the introduction of an off-target RNAi hairpin can generate disease resistant plants.
Over the course of the placement a summer student will transform the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to contain premade constructs. Four transformation lines will be produced, these will target 1) a control gene that is not present in the plant or the pathogen 2) a pathogenicity gene present in a fungal pathogen 3) a transcription factor present in a fungal pathogen 4) an empty hairpin vector. The student will also conduct disease assays on pre-existing A. thaliana HIGS lines to assess disease resistance status to both Botrytis cinerea and Verticillium dahliae.
This placement will generate resources to study the impact of “off-target” HIGS on a plants base line immunity. Ultimately, the project will shed light on whether there is a secondary mechanism of resistance created by the use of RNA hairpins to reveal an underexploited mechanism of disease resistance.
|Attach the recommended reading for the project|
|Song, Yin, and Bart PHJ Thomma. “Host‐induced gene silencing compromises Verticillium wilt in tomato and Arabidopsis.” Molecular plant pathology 19.1 (2018): 77-89.
Fusaro, Adriana F., et al. “RNA interference‐inducing hairpin RNAs in plants act through the viral defence pathway.” EMBO reports 7.11 (2006): 1168-1175.