Photograph of members of the Dundee Effector Consortium

The consortium studies the functions and evolution of effectors from diverse pathosystems.

What are effectors?

Plants face a constant barrage of microorganisms – bacteria, viruses, oomycetes and fungi – as well as pests above and below ground, that aim to strip them of their energy and resources. They possess a sophisticated immune system, with cell-surface receptors that are able to detect conserved molecules from pathogens and pests and trigger an array of effective defence measures. Pathogens and pests deploy effector molecules to suppress these defences and, presumably, to manipulate host metabolism for nutritional benefit. A second layer of the plant immune system is composed of resistance proteins. These act as ‘immune receptors’ to specifically detect the presence of effectors, rapidly activating further defences.

Image of Avr3a_mRFP fusion in haustoria of P. infestans

Why study effectors?

  • Understanding the roles and functions of effectors, as the main molecular tools of infection, is central to our understanding of the mechanisms governing disease and disease resistance.
  • To meet the urgent challenges of food security and sustainable food production, the pressures of increasing world populations and energy requirements in response to changing global climates, we have formed a unique consortium of scientists at The James Hutton Institute and University of Dundee.
  • The consortium studies the functions and evolution of effectors from diverse pathosystems, their targets within host plants, and the roles those targets play in plant immunity. A key aim is to exploit our knowledge of effector function and diversity to seek resistance genes that provide durable disease resistance.

The Consortium
Platforms, resources and approaches
Disease Resistance