This Postdoctoral Research Fellowship award to Dr. Jonathan M. Jacobs is supported by both the Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Office of International Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation. During the 24-month fellowship, Dr. Jacobs will work on a project titled, "Virulence effectors-triggered production of plant regulatory sRNA as a novel strategy to silence rice immune signaling by a bacterial pathogen" under the sponsorship of Dr. SÃ©bastien Cunnac at the Institut de recherche pour le dÃ©veloppment (IRD) in Montpellier, France.
Small RNAs (sRNAs) have emerged in eukaryotes as important regulatory players in gene expression of many biological functions including stress responses. The nature of sRNA biogenesis and activity remains heavily underexplored in model systems of important crops such as rice (Oryza sativa) during biotic attack. The aim of the proposed research include understanding sRNA biogenesis and activity in rice upon infection by the bacterial plant pathogen, Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae. This project will employ bacterial and plant genetics and molecular biology to define the mechanisms that govern pathogen-dependent sRNA biogenesis and activity. This research will expand our basic understanding of plant-microbe interactions and host immunity.
X. oryzae pv. oryzae causes bacterial blight of rice, arguably the most important disease of rice worldwide, and the broader impacts of this research include increasing knowledge of a major plant disease on a globally important crop. The fellow will develop strong international connections between the French and US agricultural research community by participating in a multidisciplinary research team at a leading French agricultural research institute. The fellowship training will also include mentorship of students from diverse backgrounds, which will strengthen the fellow?s research program upon return to the US.
This award provides a unique opportunity for a US scientist to collaborate with foreign scientists, and utilize the unique facilities, expertise and experimental conditions available abroad.