Simon Williams

Group membership

My main research interest is plant immunity, with a focus on using structural biology and protein biochemistry to understand how plant pathogens cause disease, and those that plants employ to recognise pathogens and activate defence responses. I completed my undergraduate degree and subsequent PhD at Flinders University. During my PhD, I developed protein expression and protein biochemistry approaches to characterise the activation mechanisms of plant disease resistance proteins that belong to the nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptors (NLRs) protein family. In 2009, I moved to the University of Queensland to work with Professor Bostjan Kobe utilising structural biology approaches to NLR protein function. In 2016 I moved to ANU, funded by an ARC DECRA Fellowship, to work with Assoc. Prof. Peter Solomon in the wheat biosecurity laboratory ( In 2018, I became a group leader in the Division of Plant Sciences - RSB. My labs focus is Plant Structural Immunology.

Research interests

  • Structural Biology
  • Plant Innate Immunity
  • Plant Fungal Pathogens

Highlighted publications since 2012

  1. Williams SJ§, Yin L, Foley G, Casey LW, Outram MA, Ericsson DJ, Lu J, Boden M, Dry IB§ and Kobe B§ (2016) Structure and Function of the TIR Domain from the Grape NLR Protein RPV1. Frontiers in Plant Sciences. 7:1850. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01850.
  2. Casey L, Lavrencic P, Bentham AR, Cesari S, Ericsson DJ, Croll T, Turk D, Anderson PA, Mark AE, Dodds PN, Mobli M§, Kobe B§, Williams SJ§ (2016). The CC domain structure from the wheat stem rust resistance protein Sr33 challenges paradigms for dimerization in plant NLR proteins. PNAS 113 (45), 12856-12861.
  3. Zhang X, Nguyen N, Breen S, Outram MA, Dodds PN, Kobe B§, Solomon PS, Williams SJ§ (2016) Production of small cysteine-rich effector proteins in Escherichia coli for structural and functional studies. Molecular Plant Pathology. DOI: 10.1111/mpp.12385.
  4. Bernoux M, Burdett H, Williams SJ, Zhang X, Chen C, Newell K, Lawrence G, Kobe B, Ellis JG, Anderson PA, Dodds PN (2016) Comparative analysis of the flax immune receptors L6 and L7 suggests an equilibrium-based switch activation model. Plant Cell. 28: 146-159. doi:10.1105/tpc.15.0030.
  5. Breen S, Williams SJ, Winterberg B, Kobe B, Solomon PS (2016) Wheat PR-1 proteins are targeted by necrotrophic pathogen effector proteins. Plant Journal. DOI: 10.1111/tpj.13228.
  6. Schreiber K, Bentham A, Williams SJ, Kobe B and Staskawicz B (2016) Multiple domain associations within the Arabidopsis immune receptor RPP1 regulate the activation of programmed cell death. PLoS Pathogens. e1005769. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1005769.
  7. Williams SJ§, Ve T, Kobe B§, (2015) A linker strategy for the production and crystallization of TIR (Toll/interleukin-1 receptor/resistance protein) domain complexes. Protein engineering and design. 28(5), 137–145.
  8. Williams SJ†§, Sohn KH†§, Wan L, Bernoux M, Sarris PF, Segonzac C, Ve T, Ma Y, Saucet SB, Ericsson DJ, Casey LW, Lonhienne T, Winzor DJ, Zhang X, Coerdt A, Parker JE, Dodds PN, Kobe B§, Jones JDG§ (2014). Structural basis for assembly and function of a heterodimeric plant immune receptor. Science, 344: 299-303.
  9. Ve T, Williams SJ, Catanzariti AM, Rafiqi M, Rahman M, Ellis JG, Hardham AR, Jones DA, Anderson PA, Dodds PN, Kobe, B (2013) Structures of the flax-rust effector AvrM reveal insights into the molecular basis of plant-cell entry and effector-triggered immunity. PNAS, 43:17594-99.
  10. Chang CW, Couñago RL, Williams SJ, Bodén M, Kobe B (2012) Crystal structure of rice importin-α and structural basis of its interaction with plant-specific nuclear localization signals. Plant Cell, 24: 5074-88.

( - Equal first author and § - Communicating author)

For a full list of publications please see.


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