A major focus of my research is the development of comparative and functional genomics for barley fungal pathogen Rhynchosporium commune (formerly known as R. secalis). It will advance identification and functional characterisation of pathogenicity factors (including effectors) vital for survival of R. commune on the leaf surface, penetration and establishment of a compatible interaction with the host plant barley. Pathogen effectors found to be crucial for the successful infection of barley represent good targets for host plant recognition to protect itself. Some pathogenicity determinants may also represent efficient fungicide targets if they are essential for the core biology of the pathogen during infection.
Scottish Government (RESAS)-funded R. commune genome and interaction transcriptome sequencing resulted in genome sequences of 7 R. commune strains with different race specificities as well as a set of R. commune transcripts abundant early (3 dpi) during the host infection.
Real time RT-PCR is being used for transcription profiling of R. commune genes in pre-infection stages and in planta. R. commune genes upregulated early during the interaction with barley are selected for functional characterisation using specific knock-outs and complementation or silencing.
Current Contract Research Activities