Targeting a crop pathogen’s sense of touch and taste
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:
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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.
About Reddit Science AMA Series
In an effort to bring science education to the public, the Reddit Science community (known as /r/Science) has created an independent, science-focused AMA Series – the Science AMA Series. The goal is to encourage discussion and facilitate outreach while helping to bridge the gap between practicing scientists and the general public. This series is open to any practicing research scientist, or group of scientists, that wants to have a candid conversation with the large and diverse Reddit Science community.
The Reddit Science AMA Series is a unique format that allows scientists to speak about their work in a manner that is not possible within the confines of traditional short-form journalism or indeed anywhere else on the internet. Questions can be explained individually and follow-up points may be fielded so that the readers have a clearer understanding of the field and research being discussed. The AMA series can also be used to generate coverage as an ‘open source interview’, both highlighting recent work by the scientists as well as their general interests in the lab/office.
Reddit comments are vote-based! Users can ‘upvote’ comments and questions they find most interesting and the list will be updated with the most desirable questions listed at the top. Reddit comment sections are also ‘threaded’, such that users viewing the AMA post-discussion may easily follow the flow of the conversation and direct responses to questions and comments will be in a nested parent-child format.
Reddit Science holds one AMA session each day and upcoming AMAs are detailed on the right-hand side of the landing page.