College of Biological Sciences
The plant immune system is constantly attacked by microbial pathogens that can evolve much faster than plants. Therefore, simple adaptive evolution cannot be the core mechanism underlying the sustainability of plants against pathogens. As the immune response is expensive, unnecessary induction of the immune response costs plant fitness: the immune response needs to be tightly controlled according to its varying needs. These researchers study how the plant immune signaling network simultaneously meets these demands of robustness against attack from fast-evolving pathogens and flexible control of the response. Specifically, they investigate signal interaction events in the network at the molecular level; dynamics of signal flows in the network using data generated based on deep and combinatorial perturbations and computer models; and evolution of the signaling network by computationally analyzing genomic-scale data.