Workgroup Biotrophy and Immunity

Interim head: Dr. Dimitar Douchkov



The working group Biotrophy & Immunity aims to gain functional understanding of the molecular processes occurring during the biotrophic interaction between the pathogen and the host plant. For this purpose functional genomic, cell biological, biochemical, genetic and bioinformatic approaches are combined.




Quantitative disease resistance

The Quantitative resistance (QR), by definition, has only a partial effect; nevertheless, it is considered more durable than major resistance (R) genes. Combining synergistic QR genes is a promising strategy to achieve strong and durable disease resistance.  Moreover, effective QR may significantly extend the efficiency and durability of the R-gene based resistance.

Effector research

Plant biotrophic pathogens evolved fascinating ways to manipulate their host plants and to keep the plant immune system under control. Over millions of years biotrophs co-evolved with their hosts and developed thereby specialized molecular tools and strategies of manipulation. Pathogen-derived secreted molecules central to this process are so called effectors, which are employed to interfere with the host immune machinery and to redirect development and metabolism of the host in favor of the invader.

We have cloned putative effector candidates of U. maydis to study them functionally. As effector candidates show beside the predicted signalpeptide very little bioinformatically predictable domains, we perform localization studies, interaction partner screens and functional screens. By overlaying results from different screens we try to form a working hypothesis for specific effector functions which are followed up in further detail. As heterologous expression systems for the screens we use mainly yeast, N. benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana.


Please note, that the former head of the research group, Dr. Armin Djamei, has accepted a professorship for plant pathology at the University of Bonn