MSc Thesis Projects of the Laboratory of Phytopathology

Botrytis Projects

Botrytis cinerea causes devastating pre- and post- harvest diseases in more than 200 plant species, including economically important crops. Our research aims to understand which factors enable B. cinerea to cause disease and which plant factors contribute to disease resistance.

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Cladosporium Projects

The biotrophic fungus Cladosporium fulvum (syn. Passalora fulva) is the causal agent of leaf mold of tomato. We are interested in understanding the communication between the host plant and the pathogen through Avrs also called effectors. The group preforms bioinformatics, biochemical, molecular and cell biological studies.

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Bacterial Ecology & Genomics Projects

The overall goal of the research program of the Bacterial Ecoloy & Genomics Group is to understand the ecological, biochemical and molecular mechanisms involved in interactions between beneficial bacteria, plant pathogens and plants. The program focuses on the ecology, evolution, genomics and metabolomics of plant-associated bacteria and in particular on beneficial Pseudomonas species.

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Phytophthora Projects

The overall goal of the Phytophthora group is to unravel the mechanisms underlying pathogenicity in plant pathogenic oomycetes, in particular in the potato late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans, one of the most devastating potato pathogens worldwide and difficult to control. The ongoing research is centered around two main topics (i) Phytophthora-host interactions and (ii) target discovery towards novel oomicides.

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SOL-group Projects

In the Solanaceae (SOL) group we want to unravel how plants are able to resist harmful pathogens. We focus on Solanaceous plants as these represent economically important crops, such as tomato and potato, and they are also versatile model plants in the lab. Our main interest is to exploit resistance traits that are present in nature to generate pathogen-resistant plants. With such plants, the use of harmful chemicals in food production can be diminished. We aim to sort out, using a very diverse set of techniques, how pathogens are perceived by resistant plants, how resistance (R) proteins trigger defence and which downstream signalling protein cascades are activated. Furthermore, we study how successful pathogens can manipulate these responses and suppress them.

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Verticillium Projects

Verticillium wilt is a devastating disease that affects many dicotyledonous crops. The disease is caused by soil-borne Verticillium fungi that infects the roots susceptible plants and colonize the xylem. Clogging of xylem vessels results in blocked water transport, wilting and eventual plant death. Currently, plants affected by Verticillium cannot be cured, and resitant plants are highly desired. By studying defence mechanisms of host plants against Verticillium, we aim to find novel lead towards resistance. As host plant, we mainly use the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the crop plant tomato. So far, only one resistance gene against Verticillium has been cloned; the tomato Ve1 gene. Intriguingly, this gene also provides resistance to Verticillium when expressed in aribidopsis, allowing the exploitation of many genetic tools to study Ve1 signalling.

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