Innate Immunity and the Plant Microbiota
CJ (Chris) Harbort
CJ is originally from the US but carried out his doctoral research at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin where he studied animal immunity. For his postdoctoral work in the department, CJ is investigating how the interplay between plant exudates called coumarins and the plant microbiota promotes plant survival under nutrient-deprived conditions.
Ka-Wai hails from Hong-Kong. After PhD work on bacterial Type III secreted effectors at the University of California, Riverside, he joined the lab in 2017 where he is investigating the role of plant immunity in shaping the establishment of the root microbiota.
Kathrin is German and did her PhD in Molecular Plant Physiology at University of Erlangen, where she focused on the molecular players in nutrient exchange at the maize/Ustilago maydis interface. After a two-year stint in industry, she did a postdoc in the lab of Sharon Long at Stanford University, USA, where she worked on stress response and transcriptional regulation in Sinorhizobium meliloti during symbiosis with Medicago sativa. She joined the lab in 2017 and works on deciphering the role of plant exudates in shaping bacterial communities associated with the legume Lotus japonicus.
Thomas Ryohei Nakano
Thomas is originally from Japan. He carried out his PhD in plant cell biology in Ikuko Hara-Nishimura’s group at Kyoto University, where he focused on understanding the morphological organization of the endoplasmic reticulum. His fundamental interest is determining how cellular dynamics contribute to overall plant fitness in natural habitats, and he is specifically interested in the involvement of the bacterial root microbiota of Arabidopsis thaliana in the trade-off between plant growth and defense.
After completing his PhD at the University of British Columbia in Canada where he studied the regulation of NLR-mediated plant immunity, Charles joined the lab in 2018. He is interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying the plant-bacteria interactions that shape microbiota composition and specifically in the role of the plant immune system in this process.
During her BSc degree awarded by the University of Applied Sciences in Esslingen am Neckar, Germany, Isabel characterized 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. Since joining the department, Isabel has focused on determining how Blumeria graminis effectors are recognized by barley MLA NLRs.
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 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 group in February 2019, where he is now interested in identifying the Rhizobiales mechanisms involved in microbiota colonisation and persistence on plant roots.
Dongli studied Plant Pathology at Nanjing Agricultural University and Wageningen University. He started his PhD at the MPIPZ in 2017 as a joint PhD student in the laboratories of Jijie Chai and Paul Schulze-Lefert. He is interested in unraveling the structural basis of pre- and post-activation of NLR immune receptor complexes.
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 defense 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.
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.
Petra Köchner comes from Germany and is working on molecular biological experiments. Petra also curates our clone collection and Arabidopsis strain collection.
Anna Lisa Roth
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 in bacterial community screening and DNA preparation.
Multitrophic Plant-Microbe Interactions
Stéphane comes from Nancy, France. After receiving his PhD at the University of Lorraine in France in 2010, he did a Postdoc at the MPIPZ. In his earlier work, he focused mostly on fungal transcriptional reprogramming during colonization of plant tissues. Since January 2017, he is a Group Leader at the MPIPZ and with his group he aims to understand how both host-microbe and microbe-microbe interactions impact microbial community structure and plant health.
Nathan comes from France where he did his PhD in the group of Prof. Vandenkoornhuyse at the University of Rennes. During his PhD, he studied the rules governing the assembly of the microbiota of clonal plants, its heritability and its influence on plant host phenotypes. He is now working on meta-transcriptomic profiling of the Arabidopsis microbiota as a tool to describe plant-microbe interactions.
Felix comes from Germany, he obtained his Masters degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Cologne. In 2019, he started his PhD where he wants to dissect microbe-microbe interactions with the aim of understanding their importance for host fitness and microbiota establishment.
Shiji studied microbial ecology in the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences and obtained her Master degree from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. She joined the lab in 2016 to study the plasticity of plant responses and root microbiota assemblages in response to single and combined stresses.
Fantin comes from France and has a background in the life sciences. After a six-month internship at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Hinxton (UK), he obtained a Master degree in biotechnology and bioinformatics from the University of Strasbourg. He started his PhD in December 2018 and is performing genomic analysis of fungi that colonize the roots of Arabidopsis thaliana.
Kasia is from Poland and obtained her Master degree in Plant Breeding from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. She started her PhD in 2017 and is investigating the role of the immune system in establishing Arabidopsis root-associated microbial communities.
Thorsten studied biology at the HHU in Düsseldorf and did his PhD in the group of William Martin. He joined the MPIPZ in 2015 and Stephane’s group in … . His main interests are the analysis of bacterial and fungal community structure and the use of bioinformatic tools to reveal possible microbe-microbe interactions.
Brigitte comes from Germany and has been working as a technical assistant at the MPIPZ for the last 35 years. For the past couple of years, she has been working in the Hacquard group. Brigitte is responsible for laboratory organization and the culture collection.
Wolfgang comes from Germany and is working as technical assistant. In addition to his regular departmental tasks, he is also establishing and maintaining a reference culture collection of Arabidopsis root-associated fungi.
Plant Immune Network Structure and Dynamics
Ken comes from Sapporo, Japan. He loves soccer and plant science. He got a PhD at the Hokkaido University in Japan (2004) and did a postdoc at University of Minnesota in the US. He has been a Group Leader at MPIPZ since December 2011 and was promoted to Research Group Leader in 2019. Ken is also starting a group at Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, China where he has been offered a professorship. He is interested in network properties, structures and dynamics in plant-microbe interactions, especially finding new concepts in biology.
Dieter comes from Cologne and has been working at the MPIPZ since July 1985. From Feb 2012, he has been working in the group as lab manager and technician. Dieter has a broad interest in nature and plant science and tries to understand the principles underpinning plant physiology, especially under stress. Dieter has second Dan in Aikido, and has been practicing and teaching Aikido to children for 12 years.
Yu comes from Hubei, China, and his background is in plant-microbe interactions, in particular the effect of rhizobacteria on plant growth. Yu started his PhD in October, 2018, with a focus on the molecular basis of plant microbiota function and its regulation by plant immunity. He likes badminton, biking, and running.
Fred hails from the Philippine islands. At the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), he was involved inthe physiological dissection and genetic elucidation of rice tolerance to varying flooding regimes. He is very interested in bridging fundamental science with applications that have social relevance and impact and believes that the natural microbiome can enhance the fitness and performance of plants even under challenging conditions such as pathogen attack, abiotic stresses, and scarce resources. These findings will help solve the problems of food security and sustainability and decrease ecological footprints. He enjoys watching movies, reading novels, singing, playing badminton and volleyball, and hitting the gym.
Kaori comes from Yamaguchi, Japan. Previously, she studied rice defense mechanisms against herbivores, in particular signaling activated by the phytohormone jasmonate. During her Master course, she became interested in how plants integrate diverse information in nature. Besides science, she likes cooking, calligraphy, watching movies, and listening to music.
Maria Claudia Salazar Rondon
Maria Salazar comes from Bogotá, Colombia. She studied Biology and Microbiology at Universidad de los Andes in Colombia, and continued her studies as a Master student in the program of Plant Science at the University of Bonn, Germany. Her interest is to identify and understand transcription factors that interact with the Arabidopsis MAP kinases MPK3 and MPK6 during plant immunity. Additionally, she wants to understand the regulation of transcriptional reprograming by MPK3 and MPK6 during plant immunity. Besides sciences, she motivates/annoys her colleges by dancing and singing in the lab.
Yayoi comes from Asahikawa, Japan. She studied cytogenetics and received a Master degree from Hokkaido University, Japan. She loves nature and is interested in evolution and genetics. Besides science, she is interested in eating, singing and learning German.
Yiming comes from China, and received his PhD in the field of rice-rice blast fungus interaction in Prof. Kyu Young Kang’s Lab at Gyeongsang National University, Korea in 2010. He did his first postdoc in the same laboratory, and joined the group for his second postdoc in August 2012.
Ruben comes from Spain. He studied computer sciences and mathematics in Madrid and Berlin. He obtained his PhD in computational biology from the university of Dusseldorf in 2017. Since January 2017 he is a Group Leader at the MPIPZ. He is interesting in studying complex microbial ecosystems using computational and experimental approaches.
José comes from Mexico and joined the lab in 2018. During his doctoral studies in Oded Béjà’s lab at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, he analyzed hundreds of metagenomes looking for viruses and interesting proteins. In the RGO group, his research deals with the relationships within microalgae-bacterial communities, combining -omics and the expertise of the PSL department to elucidate microbiome-host interactions.
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. She joined the RGO lab in August 2018 and will now investigate the microbiota composition and interactions at the phycosphere of the model microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii using natural soils and gnotobiotic systems.
Rui comes from China and joined the lab in 2017. She studied plant and animal genomics during her Master awarded jointly by the Southeast University and the Beijing Genomics Institute. Her project is focused on the development of methods for analysis of microbial communities using higher-order features such as networks.
Eik got his Master’s degree in computer science with a focus on bioinformatics from the HHU in Düsseldorf. He joined the lab in 2018. In his PhD he works in the field of orthology prediction and he aims to improve current prediction algorithms in terms of speed and accuracy especially for huge genome data sets.
Ricardo is currently enrolled in a bioinformatics Master program at the University of Bonn and hails from sunny Southern California. He helps investigate the principles that govern microbial community establishment by employing metabolic modeling techniques on sequencing data from the plant microbiota.
Resistance Pathway Dynamics in Plant Immunity
After BSc and PhD research in Bradford and Swansea, Jane was a postdoctoral researcher at the MPIPZ between 1987 and 1990 and then moved to the Sainsbury Laboratory at the John Innes Centre. She has been a group leader at the MPIPZ since 2001; between 2004 and 2009 she was a Max Planck Fellow and since 2009 she has been as Associate Professor at the University of Cologne since 2009. In 2013, Jane was elected as member of the Academy of Sciences Leopoldina In her research, she focuses on how plants defend themselves against disease-causing microbes with a specific interest in how plants activate and fine-tune their innate immune responses. Jane was listed as one of Thomson Reuters’ most highly cited scientists for 2015.
Joram obtained his Master’s degree from Utrecht University (NL) and started his PhD work in November 2016. He aims to use structural information from the EDS1 heterodimer to elucidate the function of PAD4 in plant immunity. Joram’s PhD is part of a joint ANR-DFG project with Dr. Laurent Deslandes (Toulouse) and Dr. Karsten Niefind (Cologne).
Dmitry hails from Russia. After completing his PhD in the group of Guido van den Ackerveken on host susceptibility to downy mildew, Dmitry joined the lab in 2013 to start research on the nuclear activities of the EDS1 family proteins in TNL immunity. In close collaboration with the A. Beyer (Cologne), L. Deslandes (Toulouse) and MPIPZ Proteomics (I. Finkemeier, H. Nakagami) groups Dmitry looks at the physical and functional associations between EDS1 and chromatin during Arabidopsis immune responses. This work suggests that there exist molecular links between EDS1 and conserved complexes that regulate gene expression. Together with other groups members, Dmitry is testing the physiological relevance of these interactions in TNL immunity.
Xinhua comes from China and her PhD is focused on functional analysis of helper NLRs during plant immunity. She is also collaborating with Dr. Laurent Deslandes (Toulouse) to look at the dynamics of NLR-DNA interactions and the molecular requirements for NLR activation.
Charles comes from Toulouse, France, where he completed his Master on plant-microbe interactions. In the frame of the DFG-funded “DECRyPT” project, Charles will be working at MPIPZ in close collaboration with Alga Zuccaro’s lab, thereby benefiting from both immunity and beneficial endophytism expertises in Arabidopsis. He primarily investigates exactly how the immune system of plants functions regarding fungal endophyte accommodation. Charles is also interested in challenging fungal-plant interactions with bacterial synthetic communities and in building functional gene networks in silico.
Joel Lars Fernandes
Joel comes from Goa, India. Previously, at University of Delhi south campus, he worked in a calcium signalling lab to understand the role of calcium sensors under potassium deficiency. He aims to compare the role of EDS1 family genes in dicots and monocots and their functions in CNL-mediated immunity in a collaboration with Dr. Thomas Kroj (INRA, Montpellier). He is also interested in rice EDS1-mediated hormonal crosstalk. Joel is funded by a DAAD fellowship for his PhD studies.