research activities are mainly devoted to study cell biological
phenomena in the context of plant-microbe interactions. In particular,
we focus on the interactions between plants and powdery mildew fungi,
obligate biotrophic ascomycetes that cause agronomically relevant
diseases (Figure 1). One of our major interests is to unravel the cellular
mechanisms of plant defence, but we are also interested in the
molecular details of fungal pathogenicity.Our lab employs a mixture of
molecular biology, cell biology, biochemistry, plant genetics and
fungal genomics to pursue these goals. The main plant species used in
our research projects are the dicotyledonous reference species, Arabidopsis thaliana, and the monocotyledonous cereal, barley (Hordeum vulgare). Accordingly, on the fungal side emphasis is given to powdery mildew species colonizing barley (Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei) and Arabidopsis (Golovinomyces orontii).
Current research projects aim to address the following core questions:
- What is the molecular basis of broad-spectrum mlo resistance?
- What is the core biochemical function of MLO proteins?
- What is the basis of fungal biotrophy?
- What is the diversity of powdery mildew effectors?
- What are the functions of powdery mildew effectors?
- How do the effectors enter plant cells?
joint weekly seminar ("progress report") of the plant science
research groups takes place on Thursdays (8:15-9:15 h) in room 3.012 in the new Biology building. Guests are highly welcome!
A general introduction to the Arabidopsis-powdery mildew interaction can be found in The Arabidopsis Book. A recent update of this chapter can be found here.
Powdery mildew genomes at the Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Köln
mutants are broad-spectrum resistant to powdery
mildew. Phenotype of a susceptible (Mlo
, left) and a mlo
(right) barley genotype inoculated with Blumeria graminis
f. sp. hordei
conidia and photographed at six days after inoculation.
Figure 2. Epifluorescence
micrograph of a barley cell expressing a DsRED-labelled peroxisomal
protein. The bright little dots inside the cell mark (mobile)
Figure 3. Cell-autonomous
complementation of mlo resistance by transient expression of a Mlo cDNA
in a epidermal cell of a barley mlo genotype. Note the successful
colonization of the transformed beta-glucuronidase
marker gene expressing (greenish) cell as evidenced by the
formation of an intracellular haustorium and hyphal growth.