Triple DFG grant success


September 20, 2021

We are delighted to announce that three early career researchers from the Department of Plant Microbe Interactions, namely Kathrin Wippel, Ka-Wai Ma and Ryohei Thomas Nakano have been granted funding for their own positions by the DFG within the scheme of "Eigene Stelle," as part of the DECRyPT consortium.

Plants in nature are in intimate association with a wide variety of microorganisms, which have a significant impact on many aspects of plant physiology, from stress tolerance to plant growth. The microbial community coexisting on and in plant tissues, the plant microbiota, has been a major topic of both basic and applied science for the last decade, given its importance from both ecological and agricultural perspectives.

In line with this, the DFG funded a priority program named "Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Plant Microbiota (DECRyPT)" in 2018 to decipher the molecular mechanisms underlying plant microbiota interactions. Researchers from universities and research institutes across Germany as well as Switzerland have gathered to jointly tackle fundamentally important questions of how the microbial community is assembled, how microbial physiology is influenced by plants in a community context, and how plant microbiota manipulates its host's physiology.

The successful outcome of DECRyPT is evident from a number of research publications in the last few years, many of which arose from synergistic collaborations within the consortium. DECRyPT is now moving to its second funding phase as of January 2022.

"Eigene Stelle" is one of the most prestigious funding schemes in Germany, which allows early career researchers to fully commit to research activities to develop their own research field for the future career.


Kathrin Wippel:

Mechanisms and dynamics underlying host preference of commensal root-associated bacteria

“Being now able to pursue my research project in the context of the DECRyPT priority programme makes me feel very proud. In the following three years, with support from the DFG and through fruitful collaborations, I am aiming to decipher how plants benefit from their specific root microbiota, which molecular host and microbial factors contribute to microbiota assembly, and which dynamics and patterns bacteria follow during root colonization. The results will help us to design beneficial and stable field inocula on the way to a more sustainable agriculture. “

Ka-Wai Ma:

Roles of novel ROS-related genes in modulating plant growth-defense responses"

“I am very excited to receive funding from the DFG to support me as an Eigene stelle under the big DECRyPT project. I will be investigating the roles of novel ROS-related genes in modulating plant growth-defense responses and contribute to addressing a broader question of how plants maintain healthy homeostasis with their microbiota members.”

Ryohei Thomas Nakano:

Molecular mechanisms underlying the microbiota-influenced host growth-defense coordination

“It has been my honor to have contributed to the development of DECRyPT during the last years, through which I established fruitful collaborations and networks with the other PIs in DECRyPT. I am deeply pleased to continue this for further years to disentangle the molecular mechanisms by which plant microbiota manipulates the coordination of growth and defense in plant roots. My project will provide an important insight into how plants manage to ensure their growth while restricting the pathogenic invasion at the same time, which in turn helps to establish sustainable agricultural practices.”

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