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Characterisation of the fungal extracellular matrix and its role in adhesion

powdery mildew barley

Determine the composition and role of plant fungal pathogen secretions

Pathogens of plant leaves are commonly dispersed in wind and need to adhere to the plant surface to begin the infection process. Once a fungal conidium lands on a leaf, a thin extracellular matrix is secreted to rapidly establish a strong connection to the plant surface. If adhesion is unsuccessful, the conidia cannot penetrate the plant host and will be removed by wind and rain.

The composition of fungal adhesive matrices has only been partially deduced. Plant/fungal interactions can be disrupted by compounds that block adhesion or by enzymes that degrade the adhesive. Glycoproteins appear to play a key role in the fungal adhesion to the leaf surface. However, their identity and mode of action have not been determined and the glycan structures attached to these proteins have not been characterised. New technologies for genome editing and single molecule imaging will contribute to a better understanding of fungal adhesion, but progress will be limited without a fundamental understanding of the components involved.

You will develop skills in:

  • Cell wall biochemistry
  • Fungal pathology

Key References:
Carver, T.L.W., Kunoh, H., Thomas, B.J. and Nicholson, R.L., 1999. Release and visualization of the extracellular matrix of conidia of Blumeria graminis. Mycological Research, 103(5), pp.547-560.


Tagged in Honours projects - Plant science, Honours projects - Alan Little, Honours projects - Bryan Coad, Honours projects - Vincent Bulone, Honours projects - Agricultural science

Competition: Young Scientist of the Year

How do we feed the world’s growing population? How do we save our wildlife from extinction? Got an idea that will build a brighter, greener world?

Australian high school students are invited to submit a short video about one of Australia’s big science challenges.

Video competition