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Title: Alternative splicing in plant defence
Author: Foster, Lesley
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 6864
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2016
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With an increasing world population and finite resources for growing crops, producing plants that can adapt well to adverse conditions is crucial to enable adequate food production. The development of crops that have enhanced disease resistance form a core part of this strategy. We investigate the potential of Alternative splicing (AS), the mechanism whereby the same pre-mRNA can lead to different mRNA transcripts, as a mechanism for plants to regulate their defence. We show that Botrytis cinerea infection has wide ranging effects on the Arabidopsis transcriptome, with approximately one third of intron-containing genes displaying B. cinerea-mediated differential alternative splicing (DAS), including a wide variety of defence-related genes from all stages of the defence pathway. Our work suggests, that in-line with known AS mechanisms, B. cinerea-mediated DAS influences the plant defence response to B. cinerea by enabling the plant to mount a rapid response to pathogens via circumventing the time required for transcript initiation and mRNA accumulation, altering signal transduction by affecting functional domains of proteins, as well as altering regulatory feedback loops. For one gene, encoding a leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinase, we demonstrate that B. cinerea-mediated DAS occurs, and that expression of this gene influences resistance to B. cinerea. We determine that DAS of this gene is altered in loss-of-function mutants of one component of the MOS4 associated complex (MAC), AtCDC5, which also has a defence phenotype to B. cinerea. With genome-wide investigations of MAC loss-of-function mutants indicating that splicing factor associated genes form highly interconnected networks. We add substantially to the body of evidence showing genome-wide DAS occurs in response to stress. We identify some putative DAS stress core genes, and splicing regulatory element motifs, which with additional work, could be used to help design crops with added disease resistance, contributing towards food security in the 21st century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: QK Botany