SURF

Anne Nakamoto

Investigating the role of transposable elements in fungal plant pathogen genome evolution

Fungal plant pathogens pose a significant threat to biodiversity and food security worldwide. This threat is aggravated by their quickly evolving genomes that adapt to evade host plant defenses––even newly deployed resistant crops are often only effective for a few years in the field. Among these pathogens is Magnaporthe oryzae, which infects rice and many other grasses, resulting in significant crop losses each year. Transposable elements (TEs) are DNA sequences that can change their position within the genome and are thought to generate genomic diversity; thus, they are hypothesized to be involved in the evolution of M. oryzae. However, much is still poorly understood about how these elements shape the M. oryzae genome. My research will ask how TEs play a role in M. oryzae’s adaptation to host plant defenses and expansion of host range by investigating the differences in TE content between various host-specific lineages of M. oryzae. The results of this project will improve our understanding of the M. oryzae genome, aiding in further studies towards developing effective host plant resistance methods.

Message to Sponsor

Thank you so much to the Pergo Fund for your generosity in making this summer possible. I really enjoyed working full-time on my project and learned so much from peers and advisors in the SURF community. This experience has not only strengthened my skills and resilience as a researcher but also helped me to gain confidence in myself and the work that I do. Additionally, it has made me even more certain of my interest in my project, and I’m excited to be continuing it for my senior thesis. I know that the things I’ve learned and the experiences I’ve gained through this fellowship will help me immensely now and in the future, and I am extremely grateful!
  • Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Sponsor: Pergo Fund
  • Mentor: Ksenia Krasileva, Pierre Joubert