In Customer Spotlight

Cofactor has worked with some extremely interesting people and we thought, hey why not showcase them? So here we go. Welcome to Cofactor Spotlight, a place where we want to say thanks to all of the amazing people who have made Cofactor a success.

Transverse section across a leaf blade showing a fungal hypha (Epichloë festucae Fl1) growing in close association with two plant cells (perennial ryegrass, Lolium perenne).

Our first spotlight falls on the Institute of Molecular BioSciences, Massey University where the work of Dr. Carla Eaton, Dr. Murray Cox, Dr. Barry Scott and their group has lead to a publication in Plant Physiology. Their paper:

Eaton, C.J., M.P. Cox, B. Ambrose, M. Becker, U. Hesse, C.L. Schardl, and D.B. Scott. 2010. Disruption of Signaling in a Fungal-Grass Symbiosis Leads to Pathogenesis. Plant Physiology 153:1780-1794.

Is described by Dr. Cox as follows.

Symbiotic associations between plants and fungi are a dominant feature of many terrestrial ecosystems. However, relatively little is known about how plant-fungal signaling coordinates this symbiotic state. Using an Epichloë festucae-perennial ryegrass model system, we explored the role of a fungal stress-activated MAP kinase (sakA) in maintaining this mutualistic association. Deletion of sakA induces a switch from a mutualistic to antagonistic interaction with the host. Infected plants exhibit dramatic changes in development, stunted growth and premature senescence. From a molecular perspective, high-throughput mRNA sequencing reveals striking changes in fungal gene expression consistent with the transition from restricted to proliferative growth, including up-regulation of hydrolytic enzymes and transporters, and down-regulation of genes involved in the production of host-protective biomolecules. Corresponding analysis of the plant transcriptome reveals up-regulation of host genes involved in pathogen defense, as well as major changes to plant hormone gene expression. Together, these results highlight the fine balance between mutualism and antagonism in a plant-fungal interaction. They also illustrate the power of deep mRNA sequencing to dissect the molecular processes that underpin symbiosis.

Dr. Cox expressed that “the team at Cofactor Genomics provided helpful advice on project design, and delivered multiple mRNA-seq datasets with impressive yields and consistently high quality.” When asked about their overall experience on working with Cofactor, Dr. Cox had this to say:

We expected, and received, prompt, first-class service from the Cofactor team. We look forward to doing business with Cofactor Genomics again.

We here at Cofactor look forward to working with Dr. Cox and the rest of the team in the future and want to congratulate them on their publication.

If you’ve done work with Cofactor Genomics and are interested in being featured in our customer spotlight, please send us an email.

Jarret Glasscock
Jarret is a Geneticist and Computer Scientist who spent formative years working with a team of scientists to complete the human genome project. Today he is the CEO of Cofactor Genomics, a company that has contracts with the majority of the world's largest Pharmaceutical companies that are using Cofactor's RNA-based products and services to understand disease.
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