Members

Charles Copeland

Postdoc
Charles comes from Canada and completed his PhD degree at the University of British Columbia, where he studied the regulation of NLR-mediated plant immunity. He joined the lab in 2018, and is interested in the molecular mechanisms behind the interactions between the plant immune system and bacterial root microbiota.

Marina Cotta

Postdoc
Marina is from Brazil and completed her PhD in Biochemistry in the Nitrogen Fixation group at the Federal University of Paraná. Part of her PhD was carried out in Gary Stacey’s lab at the University of Missouri, USA, where she studied the interaction between the plant growth-promoting bacterium Bacillus pumilus and Arabidopsis thaliana using genome-wide association studies. She joined the lab in January 2020 and will now investigate how plant carbon allocation is affected by the root microbiota.

Paloma Duran

Postdoc
Paloma comes from Spain and studied Biology at the University of Salamanca. During her PhD at the MPIPZ, she studied the multikingdom microbial communities associated with plant roots in nature and the impact of microbial interactions on plant health (Duran et al., Cell 2018). She joined the RGO lab in August 2018 and will now investigate the microbiota composition and interactions at the phycosphere of the model microalgae C. reinhardtii and other wild soil algae strains, utilizing natural soils and gnotobiotic systems.

Sabine Haigis

Technical assistant
Sabine Haigis comes from Germany and is working as technical assistant. She curates our fungal stocks and carries out barley transformation. She is also skilled in various pathogen inoculation assays.

Christopher J. Harbort

CJ studied biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also gained some research experience in plant-pathogen interactions. After then completing his PhD in human immunology at Humboldt University in Berlin, he has returned to his roots to pursue his interests in plant root microbiota. CJ Is currently working on plant-microbiota interactions and iron nutrition.

Petra Köchner

Technical assistant
Petra Köchner comes from Germany and is working on molecular biological experiments. Petra also curates our clone collection and Arabidopsis strain collection.

Li Liu

Postdoc
Li comes from China and completed her PhD degree at Peking University. During her doctoral studies, she worked on identifying RGF receptors and characterizing their downstream signaling. She also explored how apoplast pH regulates the growth-defense trade-off through cell surface receptor-mediated signaling in plants. She started working at MPIPZ in 2019 as a joint postdoc in the laboratories of Paul Schulze-Lefert and Jijie Chai and is performing structure-function analysis of TIR-NLRs in plant immunity in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Ka-Wai Ma

Postdoc
Ka-Wai comes from Hong Kong and completed his Ph.D. work on bacterial Type III secreted effectors at the University of California, Riverside, USA. He joined the lab in 2017. He is interested in understanding the role of plant immunity in shaping the establishment of the root microbiota.

Ryohei Thomas Nakano

Postdoc
Ryohei Thomas comes from Japan. He received his PhD studying plant cell biology, especially the morphological organization of ER, in Ikuko Hara-Nishimura's group at Kyoto University. His fundamental interest is how the cellular dynamics contributes to the overall fitness of the plants in natural habitats.

Jana Ordon

PhD Student
Jana comes from Germany and studied biology at Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. During her bachelor’s thesis she generated and tested a genome editing toolkit, which was then used to investigate the importance of a Resistance gene cluster in autoimmunity and pathogen defence during her master’s thesis (Ordon et al., Funct Integr Genomics 2019). She started her PhD in October 2018 and mainly focuses on the role of the plant innate immune system in the establishment of the root microbiota.

Anna Lisa Roth

Technical assistant
Anna Lisa comes from Germany and is working as a technical assistant. She is working on the Arabidopsis root microbiota and has a wide range of responsibilities including laboratory organization and maintenance of microbial culture collections. She supports the scientific staff for bacterial community screening and DNA preparation. Simone and Anna Lisa are working together.

Isabel Saur

Postdoc
Isabel received a BSc degree at the University of Applied Sciences in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany. Part of this work included the characterization of the ‘cold induced anther protein in rice’ and ‘CLE peptides involved in the regulation of nodulation in Medicago trancatula’. Her PhD work at The Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, in the group of John Rathjen focused on the Pto/Prf immune receptor complex and a novel receptor required for bacterial cold shock protein (or csp22)-mediated immunity. Isabel now focuses on the role of Blumeria graminis effectors recognized by barley MLA NLRs.

Julien Thouin

Postdoc
Julien did his PhD in the group of Hervé Sentenac at the Biochemistry & Plant Molecular Physiology (BPMP) Joint Research Unit in Montpellier, France, where he studied the molecular dialogue underpinning the establishment of the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis between rhizobia and legumes. He specifically focused his attention on the ionic channels involved in electrical and calcium signaling at the root hair plasma membrane in Medicago truncatula. Julien joined the PSL group in February 2019, where he is now interested in identifying the Rhizobiales mechanisms involved in microbiota colonisation and persistence on plant roots.

Kathrin Wippel

Postdoc
Kathrin is from Germany and did her PhD in Molecular Plant Physiology at University of Erlangen, focusing on the molecular players of nutrient exchange at the maize/Ustilago maydis interface. During her postdoctoral time in the lab of Sharon Long at Stanford University, USA, she worked on stress response and transcriptional regulation in Sinorhizobium meliloti during symbiosis with Medicago sativa. She joined the lab in 2017 to decipher the role of plant exudates on the bacterial community associated with the legume Lotus japonicus.

Dongli Yu

PhD student
Dongli studied Plant Pathology at Nanjing Agricultural University and Wageningen University. He started his PhD at the MPIPZ in 2017 as joint PhD student in the laboratories of Jijie Chai and Paul Schulze-Lefert. He is interested in unravelling the structural basis of pre- and post-activation of NLR immune receptor complexes.

Pengfan Zhang

PhD student
Pengfan comes from China and joined the lab in May 2019. During his master studies at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Beijing Genomics Institute, he investigated plant-microbiome interactions using amplicon sequencing and metagenomes. His PhD project mainly focuses on developing algorithms for analysis of amplicon sequencing data from synthetic microbial communities with the integration of genomic information of the SynCom members
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