Simon Williams

I was awarded my PhD in protein biochemistry from Flinders University in April 2010. My doctoral work was carried out in the laboratory of A/Prof Peter Anderson, School of Biological Sciences, and involved the use of protein biochemistry to understand the activation mechanisms of plant innate immune receptors.

After completing my PhD in 2010 I took up a postdoctoral research fellow position at the University of Queensland (UQ) working with Professor of Structural Biology, ARC Laureate Fellow, Bostjan Kobe. In this role, I led the laboratory’s plant-microbe interactions research program for approximately 6.5 years.

In 2015, I was awarded a Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) from the Australian Research Council to join the Research School of Biology (RSB) at ANU. in April 2016 I joined Professor Peter Solomon's group within the RSB to utilise protein biochemistry, structural biology and plant biology techniques to understanding how effector proteins from necrotrophic fungi cause disease in wheat.

In July 2018, I was employed as a lab leader, via a competitive recruitment process, in the Division of Plant Sciences, RSB, ANU. In October 2018, I was awarded an ANU Futures Scheme grant to support the establishment of my own laboratory and research program. In July 2020, I was awarded a prestigious ARC Future Fellowship aimed at understanding the molecular basis of fungal rust diseases in plants.

The Williams Plant Structural Immunology research laboratory is positioned within the Plant Microbe Interaction theme, Division of Plant Science in RSB. We utilise structural biology, protein biochemistry and synthetic biology approaches to study fungal pathogenesis and plant immunity.


Researcher ID

Google scholar

  • McCombe, C, Catanzariti, A, Greenwood, J et al. 2023, 'A rust-fungus Nudix hydrolase effector decaps mRNA in-vitro and interferes with plant immune pathways', New Phytologist, vol. 239, no. 1, pp. 222-239.
  • Williams, S, White, R, Buss, W et al. 2022, 'An autoactive NB-LRR gene causes Rht13 dwarfism in wheat', PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 119, no. 48.
  • Sundararaj, S, Seneviratne, S, Williams, S et al. 2022, 'The molecular basis for the development of adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma in patients with an IRF4K59R mutation', Protein Science, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 787-796.
  • McCombe, C, Greenwood, J, Solomon, P et al. 2022, 'Molecular plant immunity against biotrophic, hemibiotrophic, and necrotrophic fungi', Essays in Biochemistry, vol. 66, no. 5, pp. 581-593.
  • Yu, D, Outram, M, Crean, E et al. 2022, 'Optimized Production of Disulfide-Bonded Fungal Effectors in Escherichia coli Using CyDisCo and FunCyDisCo Coexpression Approaches', Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions (MPMI), vol. 35, no. 2, pp. 109-118.
  • Ortiz, D, Chen, J, Outram, M et al. 2022, 'The stem rust effector protein AvrSr50 escapes Sr50 recognition by a substitution in a single surface-exposed residue', New Phytologist, vol. 234, pp. 592-606.
  • Dagvadorj, B, Outram, M, Williams, S et al. 2022, 'The necrotrophic effector ToxA from Parastagonospora nodorum interacts with wheat NHL proteins to facilitate Tsn1-mediated necrosis', The Plant Journal, vol. 110, no. 2, pp. 407-418.
  • Outram, M, Figueroa, M, Sperschneider, J et al. 2022, 'Seeing is believing: Exploiting advances in structural biology to understand and engineer plant immunity', Current Opinion in Plant Biology, vol. 67, pp. 1-8.
  • Outram, M, Solomon, P & Williams, S 2021, 'Pro-domain processing of fungal effector proteins from plant pathogens', PLoS Pathogens, vol. 17, no. 10, pp. 1-6.
  • Outram, M, Sung, Y, Yu, D et al. 2021, 'The crystal structure of SnTox3 from the necrotrophic fungus Parastagonospora nodorum reveals a unique effector fold and provides insight into Snn3 recognition and pro-domain protease processing of fungal effectors', New Phytologist, vol. 231, no. 6, pp. 2282-2296.
  • Sundararaj, S, Seneviratne, S, Williams, S et al. 2021, 'Structural determinants of the IRF4/DNA homodimeric complex', Nucleic Acids Research, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 2255-2265.
  • Sung, Y, Outram, M, Breen, S et al. 2021, 'PR1-mediated defence via C-terminal peptide release is targeted by a fungal pathogen effector', New Phytologist, vol. 229, no. 6, pp. 3467-3480.
  • Khan, H, McDonald, M, Williams, S et al. 2020, 'Assessing the efficacy of CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing in the wheat pathogen Parastagonspora nodorum', Fungal Biology and Biotechnology, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 1-8.
  • Burdett, H, Bentham, A, Williams, S et al. 2019, 'The Plant "Resistosome": Structural Insights into Immune Signaling', Cell Host and Microbe, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 193-201.
  • Newman, T, Lee, J, Williams, S et al 2019, 'Autoimmunity and effector recognition in Arabidopsis thaliana can be uncoupled by mutations in the RRS1-R immune receptor', New Phytologist, vol. 222, no. 2, pp. 954-965.
  • Wan, L, Koeck, M, Williams, S et al 2019, 'Structural and functional insights into the modulation of the activity of a flax cytokinin oxidase by flax rust effector AvrL567-A', Molecular Plant Pathology, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 211-222.
  • Horsefield, S, Burdett, H, Zhang, X et al. 2019, 'NAD+ cleavage activity by animal and plant TIR domains in cell death pathways', Science, vol. 365, no. 6455, pp. 793-799.
  • Zhang, X, Farah, N, Rolston, L et al. 2018, 'Crystal structure of the Melampsora lini effector AvrP reveals insights into a possible nuclear function and recognition by the flax disease resistance protein P', Molecular Plant Pathology, vol. 19, no. 5, pp. 1196-1209.
  • Chitty, J, Blake, K, Blundell, R et al 2017, 'Cryptococcus neoformans ADS lyase is an enzyme essential for virulence whose crystal structure reveals features exploitable in antifungal drug design', Journal of Biological Chemistry, vol. 292, no. 28, pp. 11829-11839pp..
  • Breen, S, Williams, S, Solomon, P et al 2017, 'Emerging Insights into the Functions of Pathogenesis-Related Protein 1', Trends in Plant Science, vol. 22, no. 10, pp. 871-879.
  • Chitty, J, Tatzenko, T, Williams, S et al 2017, 'GMP synthase is required for virulence factor production and infection by cryptococcus neoformans', Journal of Biological Chemistry, vol. 292, no. 7, pp. 3049-3059pp.
  • Bentham, A, Burdett, H, Anderson, P et al 2017, 'Animal NLRs provide structural insights into plant NLR function', Annals of Botany, vol. 119, no. 5, pp. 689-702pp.
  • Nimma, S, Ve, T, Williams, S et al 2017, 'Towards the structure of the TIR-domain signalosome', Current Opinion in Structural Biology, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 122-130pp.
  • Zhang, X, Bernoux, M, Bentham, A et al. 2017, 'Multiple functional self-association interfaces in plant TIR domains', PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 114, no. 10, pp. E2046-E2052.
  • Blundell, R, Williams, S, Arras, S et al 2016, 'Disruption of de Novo Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) Biosynthesis Abolishes Virulence in Cryptococcus neoformans', ACS Infectious Diseases, vol. 2, no. 9, pp. 651-663.
  • Williams, S, Yin, L, Foley, G et al 2016, 'Structure and function of the TIR domain from the grape NLR protein RPV1', Frontiers in Plant Science, vol. 7, pp. 1850-1850.
  • Williams, S 2007, 'Purification of the M flax-rust resistance protein expressed in Pichia pastoris', The Plant Journal, vol. 50, no. 6, pp. 1107-1117.
  • Casey, L, Lavrencic, P, Bentham, A ... Williams SJ (2016) 'The CC domain structure from the wheat stem rust resistance protein Sr33 challenges paradigms for dimerization in plant NLR proteins', PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 113, no. 45, pp. 12856-12861.
  • Schreiber, K, Bentham, A, Williams, S et al 2016, 'Multiple Domain Associations within the Arabidopsis Immune Receptor RPP1 Regulate the Activation of Programmed Cell Death', PLoS Pathogens, vol. 12, no. 7, pp. e1005769-e1005769.
  • Breen, S, Williams, S, Winterberg, B et al 2016, 'Wheat PR-1 proteins are targeted by necrotrophic pathogen effector proteins', The Plant Journal, vol. 88, no. 1, pp. 13-25.
  • Zhang, X, Nguyen, N, Breen, S ... Williams SJ (2016), 'Production of small cysteine-rich effector proteins in Escherichia coli for structural and functional studies', Molecular Plant Pathology, vol. online preprint, pp. (11 pp).
  • Lv, Y, Kandale , A, Wun, S et al. 2016, 'Crystal structure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis ketol-acid reductoisomerase at 1.0 Ã¥ resolution - A potential target for anti-tuberculosis drug discovery', The FEBS Journal, vol. 283, no. 7, pp. 1184-1196.
  • Bernoux, M, Burdett, H, Williams, S et al. 2016, 'Comparative analysis of the flax immune receptors L6 and L7 suggests an equilibrium-based switch activation model', The Plant Cell, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 146-159.
  • Williams, S, Ve, T & Kobe, B 2015, 'A linker strategy for the production and crystallization of Toll/interleukin-1 receptor/resistance protein domain complexes', Protein Engineering Design and Selection, vol. 28, no. 5, pp. 137-145.
  • Obayed Ullah, M, Valkov, E, Ve, T et al 2015, 'Recombinant production of functional full-length and truncated human TRAM/TICAM-2 adaptor protein involved in Toll-like receptor and interferon signaling', Protein Expression and Purification, vol. 106, pp. 31-40.
  • Ve, T, Williams, S & Kobe, B 2015, 'Structure and function of Toll/interleukin-1 receptor/resistance protein (TIR) domains', Apoptosis : an international journal on programmed cell death, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 250-261.
  • Williams, S, Kobe, B & Ve, T 2015, 'Fusion-protein-assisted protein crystallization', Acta Crystallographica Section F: Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications, vol. 71, pp. 861-869.
  • Sohn, K, Segonzac, C, Rallapalli, G et al 2014, 'The Nuclear Immune Receptor RPS4 Is Required for RRS1(SLH1)-Dependent Constitutive Defense Activation in Arabidopsis thaliana', PLoS Genetics, vol. 10, no. 10, pp. e1004655-e1004655.
  • Chang, C, Williams, S, Couñago, R et al 2014, 'Structural Basis of Interaction of Bipartite Nuclear Localization Signal from Agrobacterium VirD2 with Rice Importin-alpha', Molecular Plant, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 1061-1064.
  • Williams, S, Sohn, K, Wan, L et al 2014, 'Structural basis for assembly and function of a heterodimeric plant immune receptor', Science, vol. 344, no. 6181, pp. 299-303.
  • Chang, C, Couñago, R, Williams, S et al 2013, 'The distribution of different classes of nuclear localization signals (NLSs) in diverse organisms and the utilization of the minor NLS-binding site in plant nuclear import factor importin-α', Plant Signaling & Behavior, vol. 8, no. 10, pp. e25976-e25976.
  • Chang, C, Counago, R, Williams, S et al 2013, 'Distinctive Conformation of Minor Site-Specific Nuclear Localization Signals Bound to Importin-α', Traffic, vol. 14, no. 11, pp. 1144-1154.
  • Wan, L, Williams, S, Zhang, X et al 2013, 'Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analysis of the flax cytokinin oxidase LuCKX1.1', Acta Crystallographica Section F: Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications, vol. 69, no. 10, pp. 1094-1096.
  • Blundell, R, Williams, S, Morrow, C et al 2013, 'Purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of adenylosuccinate synthetase from the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans', Acta Crystallographica Section F: Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications, vol. 69, no. 9, pp. 1033-1036.
  • Ve, T, Williams, S, Catanzariti, A et al 2013, 'Structures of the flax-rust effector AvrM reveal insights into the molecular basis of plant-cell entry and effector-triggered immunity', PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 110, no. 43, pp. 17594-17599.
  • Wan, L, Zhang, X, Williams, S et al 2013, 'Crystallization and preliminary X-ray diffraction analyses of the TIR domains of three TIR-NB-LRR proteins that are involved in disease resistance in Arabidopsis thaliana', Acta Crystallographica Section F: Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications, vol. 69, no. 11, pp. 1275-1280.
  • Morrow, C, Valkov, E, Stamp, A et al 2012, 'De novo GTP Biosynthesis Is Critical for Virulence of the Fungal Pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans', PLoS Pathogens, vol. 8, no. 10, pp. e1002957-e1002957.
  • Chang, C, Couñago, R, Williams, S et al 2012, 'Crystal Structure of Rice Importin-alpha and Structural Basis of Its Interaction with Plant-Specific Nuclear Localization Signals', The Plant Cell, vol. 24, no. 12, pp. 5074-5088.
  • Ve, T, Williams, S, Stamp, A et al 2011, 'Crystallization and X-ray diffraction analysis of the C-terminal domain of the flax rust effector protein AvrM', Acta Crystallographica Section F: Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications, vol. 67, pp. 1603-1607.
  • Williams, S, Sornaraj, P, deCourcy-Ireland, E et al 2011, 'An autoactive mutant of the M flax rust resistance protein has a preference for binding ATP, whereas wild-type M protein binds ADP', Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions (MPMI), vol. 24, no. 8, pp. 897-906.
  • Holt, S, Cordente, A, Williams, S et al 2011, 'Engineering Saccharomyces cerevisiae to release 3-mercaptohexan-1-ol during fermentation through overexpression of an S. cerevisiae gene, STR3, for improvement of wine aroma', Applied and Environmental Microbiology, vol. 77, no. 11, pp. 3626-3632.
  • Bernoux, M, Ve, T, Williams, S et al 2011, 'Structural and functional analysis of a plant resistance protein TIR domain reveals interfaces for self-association, signaling, and autoregulation', Cell Host and Microbe, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 200-211.
  • Ve, T, Williams, S, Valkov, E et al 2011, 'Crystallization, X-ray diffraction analysis and preliminary structure determination of the TIR domain from the flax resistance protein L6', Acta Crystallographica Section F: Structural Biology and Crystallization Communications, vol. 67, pp. 237-240.