Anderson - Plant innate immunity proteins

Group leader

Marilyn AndersonProfessor Marilyn Anderson

Professor, College of Science, Health and Engineering

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Research overview

Our group works on protection of humans and crops from pathogens. We do this by studying natural defences of plants, and the biology of the pathogens themselves.

Plants lack an adaptive immunity system. Instead, they have evolved complex innate immune mechanisms to defend against microbial infection and insect damage. We study several classes of small, disulphide-rich innate immunity proteins, focusing on fungicidal and insecticidal activities. Additionally, by understanding how pathogenic fungi build their cell walls and adapt to treatment with fungicides, we are identifying new strategies and targets for controlling them.

Our work spans from initial discovery to final application of these molecules. We use high-throughput screening of Australian native plants to find insecticidal and antifungal molecules. Detailed bioinformatic, biochemical and genetic methods are used to understand their evolution, biosynthesis, and mechanisms of action. Finally, we develop these proteins for commercial applications in crop protection and human antifungal therapeutics, in collaboration with the biotechnology company Hexima.

Research areas