KSEF R&D Excellence: Understanding the Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Interactions of Plants with Hemibiotrophic Pathogens

Grants and Contracts Details


Anthracnose blights and postharvest rots, caused by various species of the fungal genus Colletotrichum, affect virtually every horticultural and agronomic crop grown worldwide. Most fungal plant pathogens are either biotrophic (able to infect only live host cells) or necrotrophic (colonizing only host tissues that have already been killed). Colletotrichum fungi are unique because they are hemibiotrophs, initially infecting as biotrophs, but switching later to necrotrophy. Comparing and contrasting the factors necessary for biotrophy versus necrotrophy, and understanding the signaling mechanisms that underlie the switch from one to the other, will give us unprecendented new insights into both of these modes of pathogenic growth. Unfortunately, it has been relatively difficult to dissect these processes, particularly on the host side. This is because none of the hosts of the most-studied Colletotrichum species (including corn, sorghum, avocados, beans, alfalfa, and melons, among others) is very amenable to molecular or genomic analyses. However, the recent identification of a Colletotrichum strain that is pathogenic on the well studied model plant Arabidopsis presents us with a tremendous new opportunity to identify host as well as pathogen components important for hemibiotrophy. Our two laboratories are each already experienced with the biology of Colletotrichum and of Arabidopsis. We have established the Arabidopsis-Colletotrichum pathosystem in our laboratories, and we propose to isolate novel components from both the host and the pathogen that are associated with the disease process and that are important for hemibiotrophy and for the switch from biotrophy to necrotrophy in the pathogen. We anticipate that our research findings in this model pathosystem will be applicable to less genetically tractable systems, and may help us to develop alternative disease controls that are less costly and less harmful to the environment and human health than the chemical fungicides that are currently used.
Effective start/end date5/1/0512/31/07


  • KY Science and Technology Co Inc: $101,634.00


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