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Dr Sebastian Schornack


Project Outline

Glycerol-3-phosphate acyl transferases link fatty acids to glycerol to enable their transport outside of the cell where they form the building blocks of the cuticle or for suberisation. Pathogens exploit cutin monomers as infection signal and symbiotic fungi induce their production by the plant for their own sustenance. We recently have demonstrated that GPAT6 plays an important role in the leaf interaction with filamentous oomycetes and fungi. Altered GPAT6 levels also impact on the development of the outer epidermal cell wall suggesting that GPAT6 functions in the epidermis. While GPAT6 is late induced during pathogen infections in leaves it is strongly induced very early during root oomycete infections.

This project aims at addressing where GPAT6 is expressed in leaves and roots of Nicotiana benthamiana and whether and how its expression changes upon pathogen infection. To this end the candidate will study promoter-GUS reporter fusions in Nicotiana benthamiana under normal and microbe-colonised conditions. Furthermore, the candidate will address whether lines with high or reduced GPAT6 expression display changes in their interactions with root pathogens and symbiotic fungi. Comparing these results to our infection data in leaves will allow us to address whether GPAT6 has a conserved or organ-specific functionality.

This project is suitable for a highly self-motivated individual and requires previous basic molecular biology experience.


Opportunities for Training

Cloning, histology, symbiotic fungi colonisation assays, pathogen infection assays, oomycete maintenance and infection, Nicotiana and tomato plant husbandry.


Further Reading

  • S Fawke et al. (2019), Glycerol phosphate acyltransferase 6 controls filamentous pathogen interactions and cell wall properties of the tomato and Nicotiana benthamiana leaf epidermis, New Phytologist

  • Evangelisti, E., Gogleva, A., Hainaux, T., Doumane, M., Tulin, F., Quan, C., Yunusov, T., Floch, K. and Schornack, S. (2017). Time-resolved dual root-microbe transcriptomics reveals pathogen-induced Nicotiana benthamiana genes and conserved infection-promoting Phytophthora palmivora effectors. BMC Biol.