Project supervisor: Dr. Patrick Schäfer, School of Lfe Sciences
Industrial collaborator: Dr. Holger Schultheis, BASF
University of registration: University of Warwick
Project title: Understanding the function of effector proteins used by fungal symbionts to activate beneficial plant pathways
The focus of this project is generating stress-resilient maize and soybean crops. The novelty and innovation of our approach is the exploitation of the fungal symbiont Serendipita indica to activate resistance in all major crops against a broad spectrum of abiotic (e.g. drought, salt) stresses and diseases. S. indica releases proteins (termed effectors) during plant colonisation. These effectors interact with plant proteins to reprogram plant pathways regulating plant stress resistance. We are in a unique position as we have approved the function of a number of S. indica effectors that reprogram plant stress resistance pathways. Together with BASF, we will validate the specific function of plant proteins targeted by S. indica effector to enhance stress resilience against salt and drought stress as well as diseases in maize and soybean. The ultimate aims is to apply this knowledge to generate elite maize and soybean cultivars with higher resistance against abiotic stresses and diseases.
Contact: Dr. Patrick Schäfer, University of Warwick