Dr. Melanie Sacco, Biological Science

Education and Professional Positions

Ph.D., University of London, 2002
Assistant Professor of Biology

Current Research Interests

Plants have evolved several mechanisms to protect themselves from invading pathogens and parasites. One component of plant defenses is a highly specific and powerful response called Effector-Triggered Immunity (ETI). My lab is interested in uncovering how ETI operates at a molecular level to allow plants to resist infections from viruses. Specifically, how do the plant immune receptors encoded by plant resistance (R) genes recognize corresponding pathogen effector proteins to initiate the signaling events that trigger plant immunity to pathogens? One project in our lab focuses on the tomato immune receptor Tm-22 that provides resistance to Tomato mosaic virus, recognizing its movement protein as the effector. Another project in our lab explores how the effector protein P0 from several Poleroviruses triggers ETI in the resistant plant Nicotiana glutinosa, but is an important determinant of virulence in susceptible plants as a suppressor of another plant defense mechanism called RNA silencing.  Research projects in the lab aim to define protein-protein interactions within the cell that are important for plant immune receptor and virus effector functions in the model and crop plants from the family Solanaceae.

Selected Publications

  1. Wang, K.-D., #Empleo, R., *Nguyen, T. T. V., Moffett, P. and  Sacco, M. A. (2015) Elicitation of Hypersensitive Responses in Nicotiana glutinosa by the Suppressor of RNA Silencing Protein P0 from Poleroviruses. Molecular Plant Pathology 16,435-48.
  2. #Sobhanian, S. and Sacco, M. A. (2014) Divergent evolution of potato immune receptor CC domain interactions with the Ran GTPase-activating protein 2.  Plant Signaling & Behavior  9,e29772.
  3. Sacco, M. A., Koropacka, K., Grenier, E., Jaubert, M., Blanchard, A. Goverse, A., Smant, G. and Moffett, P. The Cyst Nematode SPRYSEC Protein RBP-1 Elicits Gpa2- and RanGAP2-Dependent Plant Cell Death PLoS Pathogens 5, e1000564. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000564
  4. Sacco, M. A. and Moffett, P (2009) Disease Resistance Genes: Form and Function in In K. Bouarab, N. Brisson & F. Daayf (Eds.), Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions (pp. 94-141) CAB International, UK.
  5. Sacco, M. A., Mansoor, S. and Moffett, P. (2007) A RanGAP protein physically interacts with the NB-LRR protein Rx, and is required for Rx-mediated viral resistance. The Plant Journal 52, 82-93.

*Undergraduate student co-author          

#Graduate student co-author