Actin visualization: to disclose mechanisms of host cell reorganisation during interactions with microbes

This project aims to develop a resource for actin visualization and imaging in living cells of Medicago truncatula

The Idea

The actin cytoskeleton is required for a multitude of plant cellular functions, including growth, development, cell architecture and response to microorganisms. Actin dynamics are involved in plant immunity and symbiotic interactions, to facilitate dramatic reorganization of the plant cytoskeleton. The aim of our project is to develop a multilevel resource for actin visualization and imaging in living cells of Medicago truncatula based on a genetically encoded fluorescent actin reporter. Medicago is the major model plant to study root nodule symbiosis and arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis as well as interactions with different leaf and root pathogens. However, actin labelling in Medicago is to date only achieved through root organ transformation. The establishment of a stable line with actin labelled in every cell including above ground tissue will be useful to a wide scientific community involved in plant-microbe interaction research as well as other research interests. As a powerful instrument it will enable new approaches and experiments, which are currently too complex for implementation. It will enable addressing new scientific questions and open problems and ultimately help to our better understanding underlying mechanisms of plant cell architecture rearrangement during interactions with leaf and root colonising microbes. Therefore, this resource will be exceptionally valuable for the development of new strategies of disease resistance breeding in crops.

The Team

Dr Aleksandr Gavrin,
Research Associate, Sainsbury Laboratory, University of Cambridge

Dr Sebastian Schornack,
Research Group Leader, Sainsbury Laboratory and Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge

Prof Wendy Harwood,
Senior Scientist, Crop Transformation Group, John Innes Centre


Project Outputs

Project Report

This project is due to report in 2018.

Project Proposal

Original proposal and application

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Project Resources


Banner image: Adapted from Gavrin et al., 2017. Interface Symbiotic Membrane Formation in Root Nodules of Medicago truncatula: the Role of Synaptotagmins MtSyt1, MtSyt2 and MtSyt3. Frontiers in Plant Sci.; 8:201. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2017.00201