Prof Toby Bruce has been awarded a £345K BBSRC research grant

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Posted on 29 May 2019

Prof Toby Bruce has been awarded a £345K BBSRC research grant for a new project, “Hijacking plant immunity: winners and losers in dual pest and pathogen attacks on a shared host”. The project is in collaboration with Dr Rumiana Ray at the University of Nottingham with a joint postdoc position currently being recruited. It will investigate how two organisms attacking wheat plants (the grain aphid Sitobion avenae and the pathogen Fusarium graminearium) affect each other by manipulating their host.

Plants cannot run away when an attacker comes to attack them. Being unable to flee means that they are under pressure to resist attackers... they do this by switching on defences such as the production of antibiotic plant chemicals. Meanwhile, the attackers have adapted to supress plant defence responses to colonise their host. An interesting and important question is, "what happens when plants are exposed to more than one attacker?" The project will use transcriptomic and metabolomic approaches to discover how wheat plants respond to attackers, not only on their own but also when exposed to dual attack.