Dr. Bing Yang has received a USDA-NSF joint award for research to investigate the role of interfering TAL effectors in bacterial virulence mediated by a subfamily of resistance genes in rice. Yang’s group will use genetic, molecular and biochemical approaches to thoroughly characterize the interactions of Xa1 resistance gene subfamily members with TALEs (transcription activator-like effectors) that lead to resistance. Further, they will elucidate how TALE variants (iTALEs) potently interfere with resistance genes. This research will advance knowledge of disease resistance mechanisms in rice, a staple food crop for two thirds of the world’s population. Additionally, it will broaden fundamental understanding of host/microbe interactions that involve co-evolution of new virulence strategies in pathogens and how these may be counteracted. Yang’s proposal ranked in the upper 5% of those submitted for this completion.