Targeting a crop pathogen’s sense of touch and taste

Targeting a crop pathogen’s sense of touch and taste

Monday, 10 October, 2016 -
16:00 to 18:00
Reddit Science AMA (Ask Me Anything)

How does a fungal pathogen landing on a plant decide if it is a suitable host? How does it know where to infect or where to find the best source of food? Can ‘touch and taste’ receptors in a fungal pathogen be targeted to prevent crop infection? This is your chance to ask these questions and more.

Dr Neil Brown, fungal biologist in Wheat Pathogenomics team at Rothamsted Research, will be hosting a Reddit Science AMA on Monday 10th October at 4pm BST (11am EDT).

It is simple to be part of this event:

Subscribe to Reddit Science  - It is free and you will be one of over 10 million global subscribers interested in discussing scientific research.

Log in to Reddit Science at the date and time detailed above and you can ask Neil anything about his research, and join an online discussion potentially spanning across the globe.  


Hello Reddit! I’m Neil Brown, a fungal biologist and a BBSRC Future Leader Fellow at Rothamsted Research in the UK.

In my school leavers book, my friends were asked “What will Neil end up doing?” They answered “saving trees”, to which I laughed. But it appears that they knew more about me than I did, as I now devote my days to understanding plant diseases, contributing to the knowledge and innovation needed to develop new ways to protect our crops.

New approaches to control fungal diseases that threaten our food security and health, through the contamination of crops with harmful toxins, are urgently needed. To achieve this, I am asking: how does a fungal pathogen landing on a plant decide if it is a suitable host; how does it know where to infect or where to find the best source of food; and how does it know when to deploy different virulence strategies, such as the secretion of toxins or hydrolytic enzymes?

These are the questions I hope to answer in my study of fungal ‘touch and taste’ receptors, similar to those found on our tongue. I will focus on Fusarium, a fungal pathogen that cause disease on wheat, barley, rice and maize. The goal is to determine whether these fungal ‘touch and taste’ receptors are biological targets that can potentially be drugged to prevent a pathogen from causing crop diseases and toxin contamination.

It would be great to discuss my research with you. So go ahead. Ask me anything. On Monday 10th October at 4pm BST I will be live on Reddit Science AMA. In the meantime, you are welcome to find out more about me, and my international experiences as an early career researcher, in a blog entry I wrote for Rothamsted Research’s ‘A day in the life of a Research Scientist’ blog series. 

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Registration has now closed for this event