Many of the most destructive plant-parasitic nematode (PPN) species form intimate biotrophic associations with plant roots by secreting effector proteins into host cells. These effectors manipulate endogenous plant processes in order to modify host immunity and development. This leads to the production of a unique organ from which the nematode draws nutrition for the remainder of its life cycle. Given the significant reprogramming of root development by PPN infection it is likely that many, if not the majority, of secreted effectors function to alter development.
My PhD project in the Plant-Parasite Interactions group aims to identify and characterise effectors in the development-altering toolkit of PPNs. This information can inform novel strategies for tackling PPNs in the field and shed light on root developmental processes themselves.
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