Fellowship - Do G-protein coupled receptors regulate pathogenesis any mycotoxin biosynthesis in filamentous phytopathogenic fungi?

Project: Research council

Project Details


Fungal pathogens constantly attack crop plants and cause major diseases. In order to cause disease, some fungal pathogens secrete chemicals that are toxic to both plants and humans. Therefore, fungal diseases reduce a farmer's crop production and profit, while threatening human health.

When a fungal pathogen lands on a plant, it senses the surrounding and decides whether this location is suitable for infection. How fungi sense the "touch and taste" of their environment through external receptors is largely unknown. These receptors, and their sensing of the environment, are thought to control how a fungal pathogen causes disease and whether it produces toxins. Therefore, we plan to identify fungal receptors that are required for disease in the cereal pathogen, and toxin producer, Fusarium graminearum.

At Rothamsted Research, we will create a collection of mutated fungi missing different receptors. Within specialised containment facilities, we will test if the loss of these receptors reduces the ability of F. graminearum to cause disease and produce toxins in wheat. What is controlled by these receptors will be identified by comparing the expression of fungal genes during wheat infection. Fluorescent proteins and cutting-edge microscopy will be used to visualise how these receptors are activated upon detection of the plant host and how they interact with other proteins within the fungus to control disease.

These studies will provide an understanding of how fungal pathogens regulate disease and toxin production in response the "touch and taste" of their environment. This new knowledge, and the state-of-the-art techniques developed, will be transferable to other fungal pathogens of plants and humans.

Approximately 40% of modern pharmaceuticals target similar receptors. Therefore, the identification of fungal receptors needed for disease would represent novel drugable targets to combat a fungal pathogen, improving safe food production and protecting human health.
Effective start/end date2/01/181/12/19


  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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