Now that’s a mouthful. Lets break that down…
Plant-pathogen (genetic) interaction
Unlike most animals, plants can’t accumulate immunity through infection over their lives as they lack an adaptive immune system. Instead, plants typically mediate immunity to their pathogens through networks of one or more interacting (pathogen) molecular signals and (plant) receptors. The genetic study of plant-pathogen interactions seeks to uncover these networks of interacting genes, and to study coevolution within these plant-pathogen systems.
Spatial popgen and landscape genomics
These closely related fields study how genetic diversity is assorted over the landscape. From these observations, and with no small amount of statistical modelling, we can learn about the evolutionary history of genes and/or populations, including how genes and populations have evolved to tolerate the environments or other hurdles they must tolerate to survive. This knowledge can in turn help us predict how given genes, individuals, or populations would fare in environments hitherto unknown to them.
Spatial/landscape popgen + plant-pathogen interactions
By combining these two scientific approaches, we hope to gain insights about plant-pathogen interaction by studying how genetic diversity in immune-relevant genes are assorted on the landscape. We do this jointly in both a plant and its pathogens, using collections of pairs of infected plants sampled from the wild across the natural range of these pathosystems.
I currently have a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action to perform these analyses in Arabidopsis thaliana and its pathogens in Detlef Weigel’s group in Tübingen.