Plants contain a family of genes called “R genes” that play important roles in resistance to disease. Plants and pathogens exist in an evolutionary arms race, each developing new means to attack or defend against the other. Professor Jonathan Jones, a senior scientist at the Sainsbury Laboratory and a professor at the University of East Anglia, has been at the forefront of R gene biology for decades. How do plants use these specialized molecules to detect a pathogen? How do pathogens evade detection? How can these genes be mixed and matched between plants to create new varieties resistant to disease?
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