Benjamin Schwessinger

Benjamin Schwessinger
ARC DECRA Fellow - Rathjen Lab - Plant immunity
 +61 2 6125 6963 (Office)



Find more about Benjamin here:

Twitter: @schwessinger

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Radio Podcast on Plant Immunity


Academic Education and Employment

05/2015-ongoing             Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

                                         Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the laboratory of John Rathjen

01/2014-05/2015              Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, USA

                                         Research Associate

07/2011-04/2015              University of California, Davis, USA

                                         Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the laboratory of Pamela Ronald

10/2010-04/2011              The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK

                                         Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the laboratory of Cyril Zipfel

10/2007- 09/2010             The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK

                                         3-year PhD in the laboratory of Cyril Zipfel

10/2006-09/2007              John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK

                                         Rotation Year of the 4 year PhD program

10/2004-07/2006              University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

                                         Graduation in Plant Science, B. Sc. with Honours First Class Degree

09/2002-09/2004              University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany

                                         Study of Biochemistry until the pre-Diploma



10/2015-09/2018              Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA), Australia

07/2012-ongoing             Human Frontier Science Program Long-Term Fellowship, International

01/2012-06/2012              European Molecular Biology Organization Long-Term Fellowship, Europe

10/2006-09/2010              Rotation PhD Scholarship John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory, UK

05/2005- 06/2006             Sainsbury Undergraduate Studentship in Plant Science, UK

10/2002-07/2006              Scholarship for Intellectually Gifted People of the State of Bavaria, Germany

09/2002-09/2010              Scholarship of, Germany



07/2011                            John Innes Foundation Prize for Excellence in Scientific Research, UK

09/2006                            Short-listed for the SET Student of the Year Awards in 2006, UK

07/2006                            Plant Science Scholarship of the University of Glasgow, UK

06/2005                            Lang Scholarship (Botany) of the University of Glasgow, UK


Research interests

My general research interest is driven by the desire to understand communication at a molecular level within an organism, between individual species, and within a given ecosystem. The consequential quest to explore how these communications influence evolution and evolve complements my initial research question. Early on in my career I choose plant-microbe interactions as an overarching model system to understand these far reaching research questions. In particular I am interested in plant immunity, biochemical signal transduction mechanisms, genomics and host-microbe co-evolution in an agronomical setting. Specifically, I aim to uncover fundamental mechanisms of plant innate immunity and develop new ways to introduce robust and durable resistance in crop plants. 

The goals of my research program are the following:

  • Uncover biochemical mechanisms defining robust broad-spectrum resistance in plants
  • Uncover genetic variation enabling microbes to evade plant immune activation
  • Evolve synthetic plant immune receptors with novel recognition specificities



22 publications

9 (co-)first author publications

3 corresponding author publications

h-index 15, m-index > 2

PubMed, GoogleScholar

22.       Schwessinger B*, Bart R, Krasileva KV, Coaker G*. Focus issue on plant immunity: from model systems to crop species. Front Plant Sci. 2015;6:195. [PubMed]

* Corresponding Authors

21.       Schwessinger B*, Bahar O*, Thomas N, Holton N, Nekrasov V, Ruan D, et al. Transgenic Expression of the Dicotyledonous Pattern Recognition Receptor EFR in Rice Leads to Ligand-Dependent Activation of Defense Responses. PLoS Pathog. 2015 Mar 30;11(3):e1004809. [PubMed]

* These authors contributed equally to the work

20.       Lao J, Sharma MK, Sharma R, Fernández-Niño SMG, Schmutz J,… Schwessinger B*. Proteome profile of the endomembrane of developing coleoptiles from switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Proteomics. 2015 Mar 1; in press [PubMed]

* Corresponding Author

19.       Zuo S, Zhou X, Chen M, Zhang S, Schwessinger B, Ruan D, et al. OsSERK1 regulates rice development but not immunity to Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae or Magnaporthe oryzae. J Integr Plant Biol. Dec 1;56(12):1179–92. [PubMed]

18.       Cain B, Budke JM, Wood KJ, Sweeney NT, Schwessinger B*. How postdocs benefit from building a union. eLife Sciences. 2014 Nov 21;3:e05614. [PubMed]

* Corresponding Author

17.       Macho AP*, Schwessinger B*, Ntoukakis V*, Brutus A, Segonzac C, Roy S, et al. A Bacterial Tyrosine Phosphatase Inhibits Plant Pattern Recognition Receptor Activation. Science. 2014 Mar 28;343(6178):1509–12. [PubMed]

* These authors contributed equally to the work

16.       Chen X*, Zuo S*, Schwessinger B*, Chern M, Canlas PE, Ruan D, et al. An XA21-Associated Kinase (OsSERK2) Regulates Immunity Mediated by the XA21 and XA3 Immune Receptors. Mol Plant. 2014 May;7(5):874-92. [PubMed]

* These authors contributed equally to the work

15.       Malinovsky FG, Batoux M, Schwessinger B, Youn JH, Stransfeld L, Win J, et al. Antagonistic Regulation of Growth and Immunity by the Arabidopsis Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factor HOMOLOG OF BRASSINOSTEROID ENHANCED EXPRESSION2 INTERACTING WITH INCREASED LEAF INCLINATION1 BINDING bHLH1. Plant Physiol. 2014 Mar 1;164(3):1443–55. [PubMed]

14.       Bahar O, Pruitt R, Luu DD, Schwessinger B, Daudi A, Liu F, et al. The Xanthomonas Ax21 protein is processed by the general secretory system and is secreted in association with outer membrane vesicles. PeerJ. 2014 Jan 7;2:e242. [PubMed]

13.       Wang E, Schornack S, Marsh JF, Gobbato E, Schwessinger B, Eastmond P, et al. A Common Signaling Process that Promotes Mycorrhizal and Oomycete Colonization of Plants. Current Biology. 2012 Dec 4;22(23):2242–6. [PubMed]

12.       Han SW, Lee SW, Bahar O, Schwessinger B, Robinson MR, Shaw JB, et al. Tyrosine sulfation in a Gram-negative bacterium. Nature Communications. 2012 Oct 23;3:1153. [PubMed]

11.       Dardick C, Schwessinger B, Ronald P. Non-arginine-aspartate (non-RD) kinases are associated with innate immune receptors that recognize conserved microbial signatures. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2012 Aug;15:358–66. [PubMed]

10.       Schwessinger B, Ronald PC. Plant innate immunity: perception of conserved microbial signatures. Annual Review of Plant Biology. 2012 Jun 2;63:451–82. [PubMed]

9.         Albrecht C, Boutrot F, Segonzac C, Schwessinger B, Gimenez-Ibanez S, Chinchilla D, et al. Brassinosteroids inhibit pathogen-associated molecular pattern–triggered immune signaling independent of the receptor kinase BAK1. PNAS. 2012 Jan 3;109(1):303–8. [PubMed]

8.         Ntoukakis V*, Schwessinger B*, Segonzac C, Zipfel C. Cautionary notes on the use of C-terminal BAK1 fusion proteins for functional studies. Plant Cell. 2011 Nov;23:3871–8. [PubMed]

* These authors contributed equally to the work

7.         Roux M*, Schwessinger B*, Albrecht C, Chinchilla D, Jones A, Holton N, et al. The Arabidopsis Leucine-Rich Repeat Receptor-Like Kinases BAK1/SERK3 and BKK1/SERK4 Are Required for Innate Immunity to Hemibiotrophic and Biotrophic Pathogens. Plant Cell. 2011 Jun 21;23:2440–55. [PubMed]

* These authors contributed equally to the work

6.         Schwessinger B, Roux M, Kadota Y, Ntoukakis V, Sklenar J, Jones A, et al. Phosphorylation-Dependent Differential Regulation of Plant Growth, Cell Death, and Innate Immunity by the Regulatory Receptor-Like Kinase BAK1. PLoS Genet. 2011 Apr;7:e1002046. [PubMed]

5.         Nekrasov V, Li J, Batoux M, Roux M, Chu ZH, Lacombe S, et al. Control of the pattern-recognition receptor EFR by an ER protein complex in plant immunity. Embo J. 2009 Nov 4;28:3428–38. [PubMed]

4.         Haas BJ, Kamoun S, Zody MC, Jiang RH, Handsaker RE, Cano LM, et al. Genome sequence and analysis of the Irish potato famine pathogen Phytophthora infestans. Nature. 2009 Sep 17;461:393–8. [PubMed]

3.         Conti L, Price G, O’Donnell E, Schwessinger B, Dominy P, Sadanandom A. Small ubiquitin-like modifier proteases OVERLY TOLERANT TO SALT1 and -2 regulate salt stress responses in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2008 Oct;20:2894–908. [PubMed]

2.         Schwessinger B, Zipfel C. News from the frontline: recent insights into PAMP-triggered immunity in plants. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2008 Aug;11:389–95. [PubMed]

1.         Zipfel, C., Schwessinger, B, Roux, M., and Jones, J.D.G. Genetic analysis of PAMP‐triggered immunity in Arabidopsis. International Society for Molecular Plant‐Microbe Interactions, St. Paul, Minnesota. Biology of Plant-Microbe Interactions. 2008.

Updated:  22 June 2018/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB/Page Contact:  Webmaster RSB