Areas of Specialization
» Molecular and cellular biology
» Plant virology
Ph.D. in Plant Pathology; Imperial College, University of London
B.Sc. in Pure and Applied Biology; Chelsea College, University of London
Dr. Sunter's lab explores various aspects of host-pathogen interactions using geminiviruses, an emergent group of plant single-stranded DNA viruses that cause devastating disease in food crops worldwide. Geminiviruses are a significant threat to food security worldwide and current control measures include limiting vector populations using pesticides, which is a significant health concern, as pesticides work by disrupting nervous system function. Thus, the lab's work has potential implications for alternative ways of controlling geminivirus infections is warranted to reduce the incidence of geminivirus disease.
Ongoing studies in the lab focus on 1) Analysis of the viral chromatin state to understand how chromatin structure and epigenetics plays a role in regulating viral gene expression; 2) The study of host transcription factors that mediate expression of viral genes; 3) determining how geminiviruses manipulate the cellular environment to overcome host defense responses; and 4) Network discovery to increase our understanding of plant immunity, and to identify key regulatory points that determine infection outcome.
The lab utilizes model plants as well as agriculturally relevant crops as genetic models to study host-pathogen interactions, such as transcriptional regulation, transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene silencing (RNAi), and host immunity. They use multidisciplinary approaches that include cell and molecular biology, genomics, bioinformatics, and computational analysis. Skills developed in the lab involve cell culture, DNA/RNA and protein purification, fluorescence and confocal microscopy, gene expression studies, and mutational analysis. Trainees are introduced to the design and conduct of experiments and statistical approaches for data analysis.
Click here for a list of publications.