This week our group spent two days away from the lab at Queen's University Biological Station. We worked in the main lodge by a wood-burning stove for hours, going over the direction of everyone's projects and thinking about 'the bigger picture'. Prior to the retreat, everyone shared summaries of their results, paper/thesis outlines, and a list of readings. Although we have weekly lab meetings, this intensive and cozy retreat allowed our hive mind to thrive and everyone left eager to get back to their benches and test hypotheses.
Activation of calcium signaling is a universal response to stress that allows cells to quickly respond to environmental cues. Fluctuations in cytosolic calcium are decoded in plants by calcium-sensing proteins such as calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs). The perception of microbes results in an influx of calcium that activates numerous CDPKs that propagate immune signals required for resistance against disease-causing pathogens. In this review, now published online in Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, Melissa Bredow and I describe our current understanding of CDPK activation and regulation, and provide a comprehensive overview of CDPK-mediated immune signaling through interaction with various substrates.
After a very successful thesis defence yesterday, Lauren is now the first MSc student to graduate from the Monaghan Lab. What a milestone! I am so proud of all of Lauren's many achievements and her now almost-complete thesis 'Analysis of E3 ligases and identification of ubiquitination sites regulating turnover of the plant immune signalling kinase BIK1'.
Lauren joined the lab in May 2016 as a summer student with an NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Award, prior to starting as a MSc student that September. Her graduate work was supported by an NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship and Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement in her first year and an Ontario Graduate Scholarship in her second year. Lauren graduates as co-author of two publications, with another in the pipeline. Her work on identifying in vivo BIK1 ubiquitination sites, which she did during a 4-month stay abroad under the guidance of Frank Menke at the Sainsbury Lab, has advanced our research into BIK1 turnover and set the groundwork for additional thesis projects. In addition to working hard at the bench, Lauren also excelled in her coursework and organized the Molecular, Cell & Integrative Biology seminar series for our department for the last 2 years.
Lauren was accepted into the highly-competitive International PhD Rotation Programme at the John Innes Centre/Earlham Institute/Sainsbury Lab, in Norwich UK, and starts next week!
Congratulations Lauren, and best wishes during your PhD. The lab won't be the same without you!