Pilar is looking at the host response during yellow rust infection.
Yellow Rust (YR) is a major threat to wheat production worldwide and can lead to total crop loss when untreated.
Identifying which pathways of the host cell are targeted by the pathogen is crucial to get a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in disease response.
The Saunders lab uses transcriptomic data obtained from infected field samples from across the world to study the spread and severity of the disease. Pilar uses this data coupled with controlled infections of susceptible varieties inoculated with different virulent strains of Yellow Rust to show dynamic changes in the expression of several nuclear encoded chloroplast-targeted genes during infection.
Following on from this, Pilar is working to further characterise these genes by obtaining double gene knock-outs using a tetraploid TILLING population, CRISPR-Cas9 and Virus-Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS).