Armin Djamei wins ERC Starting Grant

Dr Armin Djamei, new junior group leader at the GMI since Sept 2013, has received a 1.5M Euro ERC Starting Grant for his research into biotrophic pathogens in plants.

Dr Djamei (37) was awarded an ERC Starting Grant of up to 1.5M Euro for his project "Effectomics - eludicidating the toolbox of biotrophic pathogens". Biotrophic pathogens threaten crops worldwide and it is of vital interest to develop new strategies to reduce crop losses and improve crop plants for a growing world population. Such pathogens employ small secreted molecules, so-called effectors, to overcome plant defence systems and to establish biotrophy. The rapid increase in available genome sequences of biotrophic pathogens and in transcriptomic datasets of their biotrophic stages make possible the identification of putative secreted proteinaceous effectors by bioinformatic means. But insight into the functions of these effectors is still very limited. In Dr Djamei`s project, extensive experience on both the plant host side and the fungal pathogen side of the biotrophic interaction will be exploited to develop a workflow for functional, partially robotic-based screens to fill this gap. The combination of screen-deduced, functional information with the analysis of effector localisation and specific host interactors will provide the basis for formulating starting hypotheses of effector function.

The project will be conducted in the stimulating scientific environment of the Gregor Mendel Institute and the Vienna Biocenter.