University of Dundee

European Research Council (ERC) Grant for Plant Sciences Researcher

20 Jul 2012

Edgar Huitema, Principal Investigator in the Division of Plant Sciences at the College of Life Sciences, Dundee has been awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. The European Research Council aims to support research that is beyond the state of the art and will lead to ground-breaking discoveries. Consequently, ERC encourages truly creative scientists with strong track records to devise high risk/high gain research proposals that will help establish the basis of an independent research programme.

Dr. Huitema said, “I am extremely excited to have received funding from the ERC. With the availability of both host and pathogen genome sequences, we are now able to study processes associated with disease on crops in ever more detail. This funded research will make full use of the excellence, expertise and facilities present at both CLS and JHI. Not only will we be able to increase our understanding to a new level, we will also be able to use this information to devise innovative and synthetic solutions to devastating agents of crop loss. Dundee provides the ideal environment to achieve such ambitious aims”

Edgar Huitema joined the College of Life Sciences’ Division of Plant Sciences in October 2009. The Huitema lab, situated at the James Hutton Institute campus, aims to understand the mechanisms by which Phytophthora capsici achieves virulence on and ravages multiple crops. Dr. Huitema’s research is guided by the observation that secreted molecules (effectors) from Phytophthora, play pivotal roles in disease establishment and epidemics. His team is interested in learning how deployment of pathogen effector molecules, change host cellular processes. With the availability of genome sequences of both P. capsici and host plants, his lab aims to understand cross-talk between these organisms and to use this knowledge to disable pathogenesis and better control disease outbreaks.

The ERC scheme supports the creation of independent and excellent new individual research teams and seeks to strengthen others that have been recently created. The ERC starting grants offer early-career investigators up to 1.5 million euros over 5 years to help them establish or build up their research groups at European institutions.