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Professor Barry Scott was appointed the inaugural Professor of Molecular Genetics at Massey University in 1985. He was head of the Institute of Molecular Biosciences from 2008 to 2012. Early in his career, he made landmark contributions to the understanding of Rhizobium-legume symbiosis, reported in a seminal Nature paper in 1979. He then turned his attention to the fungal endophyte-grass symbiosis, which is economically important to New Zealand agriculture. His team was responsible for identifying the endophyte genes responsible for the biosynthesis of lolitrems and peramine, secondary metabolites unique to the symbiosis. The other major advance made by Professor Scott and his group was the demonstration that fungal synthesis of reactive oxygen species is essential for stable maintenance of the symbiosis. The results of this work were reported in two landmark papers published in Plant Cell in 2006. This discovery has led to a new and general framework for the study of fungal-plant interactions. Professor Scott is a principal investigator in the BioProtection Research Centre, a National Centre of Research Excellence. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2010. He is currently a Director of New Zealand Genomics Ltd.
Barry Scott is Professor of Molecular Genetics at Massey University. His research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of agriculturally beneficial symbiotic interactions between plants and microbes. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of NZ in 2010 and awarded a Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany) in 2014. Barry is a principal investigator in the Bio-Protection Research Centre, a national centre of research excellence. He was awarded the New Zealand Association of Scientists Marsden Medal (2013). He is a Director of New Zealand Genomics Ltd.
Professor Scott's major area of research is fungal-plant symbiosis. His group is interested in understanding the molecular and cellular basis for establishment and maintenance of the symbiosis between the grass endophyte Epichloe festucae and perennial ryegrass. A defining feature of this symbiosis is the production by the fungus in planta of a number of unique secondary metabolites which provide bioprotective benefits for the symbiosis. The Scott laboratory have cloned genes for the synthesis of peramine, an insect feeding deterrent and lolitrems, indole diterpenes that are active on Ca activated K transport channels in mammals. The group have also elucidated the pathways for the biosynthesis of these compounds. Their current interest is identifying the signalling mechanisms that result in specific activation of the genes for these pathways in the grass host. Another major programme is identifying the signalling pathways that control growth of the endophyte in the host to maintain a stable and beneficial symbiosis. Fungal synthesis of reactive oxygen species has been shown to be crucial for symbiotic maintenance. What plant signals are responsible for activation of fungal reactive oxygen species synthesis and how those signals are transduced to control fungal growth are key current questions being addressed by the laboratory.
Future Food Systems
Field of research codes
Biochemistry and Cell Biology (060100): Bioinformatics (060102): Biological Sciences (060000): Cell Metabolism (060104): Epigenetics (incl. Genome Methylation and Epigenomics) (060404): Gene Expression (incl. Microarray and other genome-wide approaches) (060405): Genetics (060400): Genomics (060408): Microbial Genetics (060503): Microbiology (060500): Plant Biology (060700): Plant Pathology (060704): Signal Transduction (060111)
Fungal genetics; plant-microbe interactions; ryegrass-fungal endophyte interactions; secondary metabolites; role of reactive oxygen species in stress and development; genetically modified organisms;
Project Title: A Chemical Cue for Fungal-PLant Symbiosis
Date Range: 2016 - 2019
Funding Body: Royal Society of New Zealand
Project Title: Symbiotic synchrony: metabolic co-regulation in a plant-fungal symbiosis
Date Range: 2011 - 2015
Funding Body: Marsden Fund - Full
Project Title: A new biological role for reactive oxygen species
Date Range: 2007 - 2012
Funding Body: Marsden Fund - Full