Nicole Kho Clay
Assistant Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology
Investigating Chemical Diversity & Defensive Metabolism using a Functional Genomics Approach
Perception of Pathogenicity-encoded Microbe-associated Molecular Patterns
Glycan-mediated Control of Pattern Recognition Receptors (Immune Sensors)
Heterotrimeric G-proteins in Pattern Recognition Receptor-mediated Signal Transduction
Virus Recognition and Entry
The plant innate immune system is constantly evolving at the interface between the plant host and microbe, and this adaptation includes both the cell surface surveillance of perceived pathogens through their microbe-associated molecular patterns, or MAMPs, and the production of defense-related secondary metabolites. The former is a conserved strategy of eukaryotic innate immune systems while the latter is a hallmark response of the plant innate immune system, which relies more heavily on diversified chemical defenses than those of motile organisms. The Clay lab is focused on understanding the molecular basis for the adaptive diversification of the plant innate immune system, which is based on the perception and production of small molecules, and rivals the mammalian innate immune system in combating pathogenic infections. In particular, we are interested in understanding how pathogen discrimination is achieved through a molecular pattern recognition system, and how the chemical outcomes of secondary metabolic pathways are diversified and functionalized.