Our Research

We carry out research into the biology of oomycetes (fungal-like organisms) within the following four research areas:

Large-scale Effector Mining and comparative analysis

Objectives:

1: Using quantitative proteomics, transcriptomics and/or genomics to define the core oomycete effectorome (that is the minimum set of genes required for pathogenicity across diverse oomycete host-interactions). 

2: To define the unique effector repertoire of our studied oomycete pathogens causing damage in agriculture, forestry, aquaculture, and the environment. 

3: To produce a molecular genetic (clone bank) and/or bioinformatics resource database for the research community of molecular and genetic data of oomycete effectors. 

4: To identify highly expressed, stable effectors as targets for use in effector assisted breeding, functional characterisation studies and to direct new disease management practices.

Biochemistry of Oomycete Effectors and their Host Targets

Objectives:

1: Analysis of core effector expression during host interactions (plant and animal cells).

2: Analysis of host gene expression in response to the core effector repertoire. 

3:  Molecular and biochemical characterization of effector-host protein complexes (in solanum, legumes, fish (cell lines)). 

4: Identification/characterisation of key effector proteins from S. parasiticaP. oligandrum and Aphanomycesspecies.

5: Identification of new oomycete effectors that e.g. act as suppressors of host silencing mechanisms. 

6: Identification of P. infestans effectors that manipulate secreted host enzymes

Effector-Assisted Breeding and Translational Research

Objectives:

1: To improve effector assisted breeding strategies in potato, sugar beet and strawberry through the exploitation of core and stable oomycete effectors in breeding programmes. 

2: Identification of the genetic source of resistance to Aphanomyces in sugar beet. 

3: Generation of nearly isogenic potato lines (NILs) and hybrids with different resistance genes to P.infestans effectors. 

4: To exploit new oomycete effector expression and evolution data for the development of effector assisted breeding and/or disease management programmes in potato, sugar beet, wild strawberry and other crops.

The Ecology, Diversity and Management of Oomycete Diseases

Objectives:

1: To map the species diversity, ecology and environmental risks related to oomycete diseases in the different pathosystems studied within PROTECTA. 

2: To assess the potential environmental risks/benefits of oomycete biocontrol agent P. oligandrum

3: To produce new, effective formulations of P.oligandrum for crop protection