Towards new eco-friendly strategies to limit fungal attacks on plants and wood
Project: The adaptive capacity of a target population of fungi is intimately correlated with the selective pressure exerted by its local niche. This is due to the chemical specificity of these niches, which could be rich in secondary metabolites in the case of plants or rich in lignin-derived compounds in the case of wood. We have shown that lignolytic fungi have expanded detoxification systems composed by cytochrome P450 monooxygenases (P450s) and conjugating enzymes, allowing them to detoxify a large panel of toxic compounds that could be released during the wood degradation process. These enzymes are known to be highly versatile (i.e. they accept various substrates), with high catalytic promiscuity (i.e. only small sequence variations could modify their catalytic properties and the type of reactions catalyzed). Hence, by rapidly acquiring new functions under environmental pressures (neofunctionalization), these enzymes are part of the mechanisms developed by fungi to adapt to their changing environment. Thus, thanks to their efficient detoxification and antioxidant systems, fungi are amazing organisms able to resist hostile environments.
This project aims both at evaluating the antifungal capacity of various environmental extracts from plants and wood, and at delineating the underlying molecular mechanisms explaining the growth phenotypes of various fungal strains observed in presence of the tested extracts. By coupling these two approaches, we expect identifying natural extracts with antifungal activity and deciphering how they affect fungal metabolism. The expected results could help better understanding fungal physiology, evolutionary history and adaptation, knowledge that are required for developing new eco-friendly strategies to limit fungal attacks on crops and on wood material.
Required skills: This project combines genomic, transcriptomic, physiological, biochemical and chemical approaches. The candidate needs to have a strong expertise in molecular biology, fungal microbiology and bioinformatics. For this project, he will benefit from the expertise of many scientists in the research unit (see website: http://mycor.nancy.inra.fr/IAM/) with a strong background in these disciplines and from external existing collaborations for sample extraction and chemical analyses, fungal genetic transformation, or for protein structural analysis.
Place of work: Stress Responses and Redox Regulation” team (http://mycor.nancy.inra.fr/IAM/?page_id=17). Faculty of sciences, Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France
Form of employment: Temporary employment for one year funded by the Région Lorraine and Lorraine University, possibly renewable and starting in autumn 2016.
Applicants should sent a CV, including the names and contact details of three referees, and a covering letter addressing the selection criteria to Dr Mélanie Morel-Rouhier, e-mail: Melanie.Morel@univ-lorraine.fr, phone: +33 3 83 68 42 28.