Jijie Chai receives prestigious Future Science Prize

August 17, 2023

Jijie Chai, former Alexander von Humboldt Professor and Max-Planck Fellow at the University of Cologne and the MPIPZ has been awarded the Future Science Prize together with Jian-Min Zhou for their work on the assembly and biochemical mode of action of plant resistosomes.

Plant disease outbreaks have significantly shaped human civilizations throughout history and today contribute to an alarming global food production loss due to infections caused by microbial pathogens. 

The collaborative effort by Chai and Zhou has unveiled a significant aspect of plant immune responses: the activation of immune responses through the formation of resistosomes.

By identifying the components of the first resistosome, known as the ZAR1 resistosome, and elucidating its structural configuration and molecular processes, they have accomplished a remarkable feat.

The resistosome serves as a calcium channel in the plasma membrane that controls the initiation of programmed cell death at the site of infection. This mechanism effectively protects plants from the dangers of infection.

Understanding how resistosomes function has the potential to revolutionize plant disease management and is thus of immense importance to global food security.

The collaborative work has not only enriched our knowledge in plant immunity but also holds the promise of fostering enhanced strategies for safeguarding crops and ensuring a more secure global food supply.

The Future Science Prize

The Future Science Prize, established in 2016, aims to recognize outstanding scientific work with long-term significance, awarded in three categories: life science, physical science and mathematics/computer science.

The nominated work should have been conducted primarily in China, Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan and is priced with approximately USD$ 1million.

The process of making decisions bears similarity to that of the Nobel and Turing Prizes. Nomination occurs exclusively through invitations, and the evaluation and ultimate verdict are conducted by a scientific committee comprising accomplished experts.

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