Department of Plant Microbe Interactions
Research in the department of Plant Microbe Interactions engages in fundamental molecular processes underlying interactions between plants and pathogens. The innate immune system of plants and mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis have a central role in our discovery program. We are pursuing an integrated approach bridging traditional research territories like genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, and cell biology. Much of our work is focused on interactions between plants and fungi, a common class of pathogenic microbes.
Although the structure of the plant immune system ensures effective protection against most microbial pathogens, few intruders succeed to colonize plants. In such cases plant immune receptors fail to recognize a pathogen or the invader evolved mechanisms to suppress immune responses. Our goal is to define a regulatory network of the plant immune system that can make predictions which components and how component activities can be changed to modulate immune responses. This should provide insights as to how the plant immune system can be modified to improve plant protection using molecular breeding techniques.