Dr. Melanie Sacco, Biological Science


Ph.D., University of London, 2002

Research Areas

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 gene-for-gene resistance. My lab is interested in uncovering how gene-for-gene resistance operates at a molecular level. That is, how do the proteins encoded by plant resistance (R) genes recognize corresponding pathogen avirulence (Avr) proteins to initiate the signaling events that trigger plant immunity to pathogens? Our research focuses on the CNL class of R proteins that contain coiled-coil (CC), nucleotide-binding and leucine-rich repeat domains. Research projects in the lab aim to define protein interactions within the cell that are important for CNL function in the model plants Arabidopsis thaliana and Nicotiana benthamiana.


  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. Bhattacharjee, S., Zamora, A., Azhar, M. T., Sacco, M. A., and Moffett. P. (2009) Virus resistance induced by NB-LRR proteins involves Argonaute4-dependent translational control.  The Plant Journal 58, 940-951.
  4. Rairdan, G. J., Collier, S. M., Sacco, M. A., Baldwin, T. T., Boetrich, T. and Moffett, P. (2008) The coiled-coil and nucleotide binding domains of the Potato Rx disease resistance protein function in pathogen recognition and signaling. Plant Cell 20, 739-751.
  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.