Molecular Plant Pathology

PI: Dr. Andrea Sanchez Vallet (Esta dirección de correo electrónico está siendo protegida contra los robots de spam. Necesita tener JavaScript habilitado para poder verlo.)

Fungal pathogens, such as Zymoseptoria tritici, the causal agent of Septoria tritici blotch in wheat, have an intimate interaction with their hosts. Not only do they have to acquire nutrients from them, but they also have to protect themselves against the host immune system. The molecular mechanisms by which plant pathogenic fungi infect their hosts have been studied for years. However, Z. tritici infection strategy remains enigmatic. In our group, we are interested in analyzing the molecular mechanisms by which Z. tritici infects host plants. Specifically, we are interested in analyzing how this fungal pathogen is able to cope with the host immune system and how it eventually kills the cells. The aim of my research is to gain knowledge into the molecular basis of infection of Z. tritici.


1. Z. tritici pathogenicity

Z. tritici is a highly specialized pathogen that only infects wheat and no other plants. In this project, we aim to understand the molecular mechanisms by which Z. tritici infects its host. We recently identified a new avirulence factor which is specifically recognized by certain wheat cultivars hindering the infection progression. The gene is highly polymorphic and specifically expressed during host colonization. In this project, we aim to elucidate the molecular basis of recognition and the molecular targets of effectors.


2. Chromatin remodeling and expression of effector genes

Tight gene expression regulation of virulence factors is required for successful colonization of the host. Although it is frequently assumed that chromatin remodeling is required for induction of expression of effectors, we still do not understand the molecular components involved in this process. We recently demonstrated that host-triggered chromatin remodeling is involved in cell-specific expression profiles of effector genes. In this project, we will elucidate how stress related genes are activated during infection and what is the contribution of transposable elements in gene expression regulation.


3. Dialogue between strains in genetically diverse infections

Natural infections are often caused by mixtures of genetically different pathogen strains (mixed-infections). Most research projects aim to understand the interactions of individual hosts with single pathogen strains. The consequences of simultaneous infection by multiple pathogen strains for disease development, epidemiology and pathogen evolution remain largely unexplored. This research project will explore the molecular components involved in the dialogue between co-infecting strains.



Centro de Biotecnología y Genómica de Plantas UPM – INIA Parque Científico y Tecnológico de la U.P.M. Campus de Montegancedo
Autopista M-40, Km 38 - 28223 Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid) Tel.: +34 91 0679100 ext. 79100  Fax: +34 91 7157721. Localización y Contacto

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