Roger W Innes Science Protecting Plant Health 2017

Roger W Innes

Roger Innes is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Indiana University-Bloomington, and currently directs IUB’s Electron Microscopy Center . He received his Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado-Boulder, and completed Post-doctoral research at the University of California-Berkeley. He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Microbiology. Dr. Innes’ research focuses on the immune system in plants, with a particular interest in how plants detect pathogens and how detection is translated into an active immune response. His group was among the first to identify and clone plant disease resistance genes using the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. This work revealed that the great majority of disease resistance genes encode proteins containing nucleotide binding domains and leucine rich repeats (NLRs). NLR proteins function as intracellular sensors of pathogens in both plants and animals. In humans, mutations in NLR genes have been implicated in several autoimmune diseases. In plants, NLR proteins detect specific pathogen effector proteins that are translocated into the host cell cytoplasm. Most NLR proteins are now known to detect pathogen effector proteins indirectly, via detecting modification of effector targets. These insights are now leading to new approaches for engineering disease resistance in plants. In a second area of research, the Innes laboratory has been investigating intracellular and intercellular signaling and cell biology of the plant immune system, including analysis of endomembrane trafficking in plant cells and production of extracellular vesicles. The latter are currently under intensive investigation in mammalian systems as they have been shown to mediate intercellular communication by transferring proteins and RNAs, including microRNAs, between cells. Although extracellular vesicles were first observed in plants over 50 years ago, almost nothing is known about their function. Recent work in the Innes laboratory has established that release of extracellular vesicles is upregulated during pathogen infection and that these vesicles carry numerous defense-related proteins, as well as microRNAs, suggesting that, similar to mammalian systems, these vesicles may be playing an important role in immune responses.

Abstracts this author is presenting: