Benjamin Schwessinger

Group membership

Benjamin has been working on plants and fungi in various aspects from signalling to genomics and from biochemistry to bioinformatics. He started off with Arabidopsis before moving to rice and Xanthomonas. His current work is focused on fungi called rusts with a focal point on the wheat stripe rust fungus Puccinia striiforims f. sp. tritici. Benjamin is fascinated by biology in general and by observing living systems in interaction.

Twitter: @schwessinger

Google Scholar


Radio Podcast on Plant Immunity


Academic Education and Employment

late-2018                          ARC Future Fellow and independent group leader at ANU

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

                                         Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) fellow working with 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



late-2018                            Future Fellowship 2018, Australia

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

I focus my research on plant-microbe interactions, biochemical signal transduction mechanisms, genomics and host-microbe co-evolution. Specifically, I study the interaction between the stripe rust fungus Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici, its environment, and its hosts with a focus on wheat. This obligate biotrophic fungus belongs to the order Puccinales, members of which cause rust disease on a wide variety of plant species. P. striiformis f. sp. tritici has an intriguing life cycle involving five different spore types and two unrelated plant hosts. It’s capacity to rapidly evolve and infect large areas of wheat in its asexual dihaploid spore stage makes it one of the major biotic limitation of wheat production with estimated losses of $ 1 billion USD globally. Despite its importance we lack any detailed understanding of the molecular, biochemical, and cellular mechanisms regulating its development, its infection processes, and its molecular evolution in agricultural and natural ecosystems. My desire to close these gaps in our knowledge leads to the three major goals of my five to seven years’ research program:

  • Identify the cellular and molecular mechanisms of host colonization
  • Identify and functionally characterize multiple fungal pathogenicity factors contributing to host adaptation
  • Uncover the contribution of its genome architecture to host adaptation


# refereed publications: 37

# public preprints: 3

# of first author publications: 9

# of co-first author publications: 7

# of corresponding author publications: 9

h-index 19, m-index 2, 3471 citations (Google Scholar, 06/2018)


[OA] represents publication in open access journals

# represents shared first authorship

$ represents corresponding author

Junior researchers supervised by Dr Schwessinger are underlined

Citation data is from Google Scholar, June 2018


Peer-reviewed Journal Articles


  1. [OA] Thomas, N.C., Oksenberg, N., Liu, F., Caddell, D., Nalyvayko, A., Nguyen, Y., Schwessinger, B.$, Ronald, P.$, 2017. The Rice XA21 Ectodomain Fused to the Arabidopsis EFR Cytoplasmic Domain Confers Resistance to Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae. PeerJ 6, e4456.

Citations = 0


  1. [OA] Schwessinger, B.$, Sperschneider, J., Cuddy, W.$, Miller, M., Garnica, D., Taylor, J., Dodds, P., Figueroa, M., Robert, P., Rathjen, J.$, 2017. A near complete haplotype-phased genome of the dikaryotic wheat stripe rust fungus Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici reveals high inter-haplome diversity. mBio 9, e02275-17

Citations = 2


  1. [OA] Miller, M.E., Zhang, Y., Omidvar, V., Sperschneider, J., Schwessinger, B., Raley, C., Palmer, J.M., Garnica, D., Upadhyaya, N., Rathjen, J., Taylor, J.M., Park, R.F., Dodds, P.N., Hirsch, C.D., Kianian, S.F., Figueroa, M., 2018. De Novo Assembly and Phasing of Dikaryotic Genomes from Two Isolates of Puccinia coronata f. sp. avenae, the Causal Agent of Oat Crown Rust. mBio 9, e01650-17.

Citations = 3


  1. [OA] Pornsiriwong, W., Estavillo, G.M., Chan, K.X., Tee, E.E., Ganguly, D., Crisp, P.A., Phua, S.Y., Zhao, C., Qiu, J., Park, J., Yong, M.T., Nisar, N., Yadav, A.K., Schwessinger, B., Rathjen, J., Cazzonelli, C.I., Wilson, P.B., Gilliham, M., Chen, Z.-H., Pogson, B.J., 2017. A chloroplast retrograde signal, 3’-phosphoadenosine 5’-phosphate, acts as a secondary messenger in abscisic acid signaling in stomatal closure and germination. Elife 6. doi:10.7554/eLife.23361

Citations = 22


  1. [OA] Pruitt, R.N., Joe, A., Zhang, W., Feng, W., Stewart, V., Schwessinger, B., Dinneny, J.R., Ronald, P.C., 2017. A microbially derived tyrosine-sulfated peptide mimics a plant peptide hormone. New Phytol. 215, 725–736. doi:10.1111/nph.14609

Citations = 2


  1. [OA] Schwessinger, B.$, 2017. Fundamental wheat stripe rust research in the 21st century. New Phytol. 213, 1625–1631. doi:10.1111/nph.14159

Citations = 13


  1. [OA] Singh, V., Perraki, A., Kim, S.Y., Shrivastava, S., Lee, J.H., Zhao, Y., Schwessinger, B., Oh, M.-H., Marshall-Colon, A., Zipfel, C., Huber, S.C., 2017. Tyrosine-610 in the Receptor Kinase BAK1 Does Not Play a Major Role in Brassinosteroid Signaling or Innate Immunity. Front. Plant Sci. 8. doi:10.3389/fpls.2017.01273

Citations = 0


  1. Thynne, E., Saur, I.M.L., Simbaqueba, J., Ogilvie, H.A., Gonzalez-Cendales, Y., Mead, O., Taranto, A., Catanzariti, A.-M., McDonald, M.C., Schwessinger, B., Jones, D.A., Rathjen, J.P., Solomon, P.S., 2017. Fungal phytopathogens encode functional homologues of plant rapid alkalinization factor (RALF) peptides. Mol. Plant Pathol. 18, 811–824. doi:10.1111/mpp.12444

Citations = 17


  1. Bahar, O., Mordukhovich, G., Luu, D.D., Schwessinger, B., Daudi, A., Jehle, A.K., Felix, G., Ronald, P.C., 2016. Bacterial Outer Membrane Vesicles Induce Plant Immune Responses. Mol. Plant Microbe Interact. 29, 374–384. doi:10.1094/MPMI-12-15-0270-R

Citations = 11


  1. Kohler, A.C., Chen, L.-H., Hurlburt, N., Salvucci, A., Schwessinger, B., Fisher, A.J., Stergiopoulos, I., 2016. Structural Analysis of an Avr4 Effector Ortholog Offers Insight into Chitin Binding and Recognition by the Cf-4 Receptor. Plant Cell 28, 1945–1965. doi:10.1105/tpc.15.00893

Citations = 4


  1. Schwessinger, B., Li, X., Ellinghaus, T.L., Chan, L.J.G., Wei, T., Joe, A., Thomas, N., Pruitt, R., Adams, P.D., Chern, M.S., Petzold, C.J., Liu, C.C. $, Ronald, P.C. $, 2016. A second-generation expression system for tyrosine-sulfated proteins and its application in crop protection. Integr. Biol. 8, 542–545. doi:10.1039/C5IB00232J

Citations = 2


  1. [OA] Thomas, N.C.#, Schwessinger, B.#, Liu, F., Chen, H., Wei, T., Nguyen, Y.P., Shaker, I.W.F., Ronald, P.C., 2016. XA21-specific induction of stress-related genes following Xanthomonas infection of detached rice leaves. PeerJ 4, e2446. doi:10.7717/peerj.2446

Citations = 1


  1. Lao, J., Sharma, M.K., Sharma, R., Fernández-Niño, S.M.G., Schmutz, J., Ronald, P.C., Heazlewood, J.L., Schwessinger, B. $, 2015. Proteome profile of the endomembrane of developing coleoptiles from switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Proteomics 15, 2286–2290. doi:10.1002/pmic.201400487

Citations = 7


  1. [OA] Pruitt, R.N.#, Schwessinger, B. #,$, Joe, A., Thomas, N., Liu, F., Albert, M., Robinson, M.R., Chan, L.J.G., Luu, D.D., Chen, H., Bahar, O., Daudi, A., Vleesschauwer, D.D., Caddell, D., Zhang, W., Zhao, X., Li, X., Heazlewood, J.L., Ruan, D., Majumder, D., Chern, M., Kalbacher, H., Midha, S., Patil, P.B., Sonti, R.V., Petzold, C.J., Liu, C.C., Brodbelt, J.S., Felix, G., Ronald, P.C.$, 2015. The rice immune receptor XA21 recognizes a tyrosine-sulfated protein from a Gram-negative bacterium. Science Advances 1, e1500245. doi:10.1126/sciadv.1500245

Citations = 67


  1. [OA] Schwessinger, B. #, Bahar, O. #, Thomas, N., Holton, N., Nekrasov, V., Ruan, D., Canlas, P.E., Daudi, A., Petzold, C.J., Singan, V.R., Kuo, R., Chovatia, M., Daum, C., Heazlewood, J.L., Zipfel, C., Ronald, P.C., 2015a. Transgenic Expression of the Dicotyledonous Pattern Recognition Receptor EFR in Rice Leads to Ligand-Dependent Activation of Defense Responses. PLoS Pathog 11, e1004809. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1004809

Citations = 47


  1. [OA] Schwessinger, B. $, Bart, R., Krasileva, K.V., Coaker, G. $, 2015. Focus issue on plant immunity: from model systems to crop species. Front. Plant Sci 6, 195. doi:10.3389/fpls.2015.00195

Citations = 5


  1. Schwessinger, B.$, Rathjen, J.P.$, 2015. Changing SERKs and priorities during plant life. Trends in Plant Science 20, 531–533. doi:10.1016/j.tplants.2015.06.006

Citations = 9


  1. [OA] Cain, B., Budke, J.M., Wood, K.J., Sweeney, N.T., Schwessinger, B.$, 2014. How postdocs benefit from building a union. eLife Sciences 3, e05614. doi:10.7554/eLife.05614

Citations = 6


  1. [OA] Chen, X.#, Zuo, S.#, Schwessinger, B.#, Chern, M., Canlas, P.E., Ruan, D., Zhou, X., Wang, J., Daudi, A., Petzold, C.J., Heazlewood, J.L., Ronald, P.C., 2014. An XA21-Associated Kinase (OsSERK2) Regulates Immunity Mediated by the XA21 and XA3 Immune Receptors. Molecular Plant 7, 874–892. doi:10.1093/mp/ssu003

Citations = 68


  1. Macho, A.P. #, Schwessinger, B. #, Ntoukakis, V. #, Brutus, A., Segonzac, C., Roy, S., Kadota, Y., Oh, M.-H., Sklenar, J., Derbyshire, P., Lozano-Durán, R., Malinovsky, F.G., Monaghan, J., Menke, F.L., Huber, S.C., He, S.Y., Zipfel, C., 2014. A Bacterial Tyrosine Phosphatase Inhibits Plant Pattern Recognition Receptor Activation. Science 343, 1509–1512. doi:10.1126/science.1248849

Citations = 71


  1. Malinovsky, F.G., Batoux, M., Schwessinger, B., Youn, J.H., Stransfeld, L., Win, J., Kim, S.-K., Zipfel, C., 2014. 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. 164, 1443–1455. doi:10.1104/pp.113.234625

Citations = 60


  1. Zuo, S., Zhou, X., Chen, M., Zhang, S., Schwessinger, B., Ruan, D., Yuan, C., Wang, J., Chen, X., Ronald, P.C., 2014. OsSERK1 regulates rice development but not immunity to Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae or Magnaporthe oryzae. J. Integr. Plant Biol. 56, 1179–1192. doi:10.1111/jipb.12290

Citations = 13


  1. [OA] Bahar, O.#, Pruitt, R.#, Luu, D.D., Schwessinger, B., Daudi, A., Liu, F., Ruan, R., Fontaine-Bodin, L., Koebnik, R., Ronald, P., 2014. The Xanthomonas Ax21 protein is processed by the general secretory system and is secreted in association with outer membrane vesicles. PeerJ 2, e242. doi:10.7717/peerj.242

Citations = 39


  1. Albrecht, C.#, Boutrot, F.#, Segonzac, C., Schwessinger, B., Gimenez-Ibanez, S., Chinchilla, D., Rathjen, J.P., Vries, S.C. de, Zipfel, C., 2012. Brassinosteroids inhibit pathogen-associated molecular pattern–triggered immune signaling independent of the receptor kinase BAK1. PNAS 109, 303–308. doi:10.1073/pnas.1109921108

Citations = 229


  1. Dardick, C., Schwessinger, B., Ronald, P., 2012. Non-arginine-aspartate (non-RD) kinases are associated with innate immune receptors that recognize conserved microbial signatures. Curr Opin Plant Biol 15, 358–66. doi:10.1016/j.pbi.2012.05.002

Citations = 55


  1. [OA] Han, S.-W. #, Lee, S.-W. #, Bahar, O., Schwessinger, B., Robinson, M.R., Shaw, J.B., Madsen, J.A., Brodbelt, J.S., Ronald, P.C., 2012. Tyrosine sulfation in a Gram-negative bacterium. Nat Commun 3, 1153. doi:10.1038/ncomms2157

Citations = 39


  1. Schwessinger, B., Ronald, P.C., 2012. Plant innate immunity: perception of conserved microbial signatures. Annu Rev Plant Biol 63, 451–482. doi:10.1146/annurev-arplant-042811-105518

Citations = 223


  1. Wang, E.#, Schornack, S.#, Marsh, J.F., Gobbato, E., Schwessinger, B., Eastmond, P., Schultze, M., Kamoun, S., Oldroyd, G.E.D., 2012. A Common Signaling Process that Promotes Mycorrhizal and Oomycete Colonization of Plants. Current Biology 22, 2242–2246. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2012.09.043

Citations = 170


  1. Ntoukakis, V.#, Schwessinger, B.#, Segonzac, C., Zipfel, C., 2011. Cautionary notes on the use of C-terminal BAK1 fusion proteins for functional studies. Plant Cell 23, 3871–8. doi:10.1105/tpc.111.090779

Citations = 49


  1. Roux, M.#, Schwessinger, B.#, Albrecht, C., Chinchilla, D., Jones, A., Holton, N., Malinovsky, F.G., Tor, M., de Vries, S., Zipfel, C., 2011. 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 23, 2440–55. doi:10.1105/tpc.111.084301

Citations = 387


  1. [OA] Schwessinger, B., Roux, M., Kadota, Y., Ntoukakis, V., Sklenar, J., Jones, A., Zipfel, C., 2011. Phosphorylation-Dependent Differential Regulation of Plant Growth, Cell Death, and Innate Immunity by the Regulatory Receptor-Like Kinase BAK1. PLoS Genet 7, e1002046. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002046

Citations = 293


  1. [OA] Haas, B.J., Kamoun, S., Zody, M.C., Jiang, R.H., Handsaker, R.E., Cano, L.M., Grabherr, M., Kodira, C.D., Raffaele, S., Torto-Alalibo, T., Bozkurt, T.O., Ah-Fong, A.M., Alvarado, L., Anderson, V.L., Armstrong, M.R., Avrova, A., Baxter, L., Beynon, J., Boevink, P.C., Bollmann, S.R., Bos, J.I., Bulone, V., Cai, G., Cakir, C., Carrington, J.C., Chawner, M., Conti, L., Costanzo, S., Ewan, R., Fahlgren, N., Fischbach, M.A., Fugelstad, J., Gilroy, E.M., Gnerre, S., Green, P.J., Grenville-Briggs, L.J., Griffith, J., Grunwald, N.J., Horn, K., Horner, N.R., Hu, C.H., Huitema, E., Jeong, D.H., Jones, A.M., Jones, J.D., Jones, R.W., Karlsson, E.K., Kunjeti, S.G., Lamour, K., Liu, Z., Ma, L., Maclean, D., Chibucos, M.C., McDonald, H., McWalters, J., Meijer, H.J., Morgan, W., Morris, P.F., Munro, C.A., O’Neill, K., Ospina-Giraldo, M., Pinzon, A., Pritchard, L., Ramsahoye, B., Ren, Q., Restrepo, S., Roy, S., Sadanandom, A., Savidor, A., Schornack, S., Schwartz, D.C., Schumann, U.D., Schwessinger, B., Seyer, L., Sharpe, T., Silvar, C., Song, J., Studholme, D.J., Sykes, S., Thines, M., van de Vondervoort, P.J., Phuntumart, V., Wawra, S., Weide, R., Win, J., Young, C., Zhou, S., Fry, W., Meyers, B.C., van West, P., Ristaino, J., Govers, F., Birch, P.R., Whisson, S.C., Judelson, H.S., Nusbaum, C., 2009. Genome sequence and analysis of the Irish potato famine pathogen Phytophthora infestans. Nature 461, 393–8. doi:10.1038/nature08358

Citations = 924


  1. Nekrasov, V., Li, J., Batoux, M., Roux, M., Chu, Z.H., Lacombe, S., Rougon, A., Bittel, P., Kiss-Papp, M., Chinchilla, D., van Esse, H.P., Jorda, L., Schwessinger, B., Nicaise, V., Thomma, B.P., Molina, A., Jones, J.D., Zipfel, C., 2009. Control of the pattern-recognition receptor EFR by an ER protein complex in plant immunity. Embo J 28, 3428–38. doi:10.1038/emboj.2009.262

Citations = 214


  1. Conti, L., Price, G., O’Donnell, E., Schwessinger, B., Dominy, P., Sadanandom, A., 2008. Small ubiquitin-like modifier proteases OVERLY TOLERANT TO SALT1 and -2 regulate salt stress responses in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 20, 2894–908. doi:10.1105/tpc.108.058669

Citations = 120


  1. Schwessinger, B., Zipfel, C., 2008. News from the frontline: recent insights into PAMP-triggered immunity in plants. Curr Opin Plant Biol 11, 389–95. doi:10.1016/j.pbi.2008.06.001

Citations = 293


Peer-reviewed book chapter


  1. Schwessinger, B. $, Rathjen, J.P., 2017. Extraction of High Molecular Weight DNA from Fungal Rust Spores for Long Read Sequencing. Methods Mol. Biol. 1659, 49–57. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-7249-4_5

Citations = 1


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

Citations = unknown


Publicly available preprints

Publicly available preprints

  1. [OA] McDonald, M.#, Schwessinger, B.#, Stewart, V., Ronald, P., 2017. Distribution and inheritance of a gene cluster encoding a sulfated tyrosine peptide in Xanthomonas spp. bioRxiv 149930. doi:10.1101/149930

  2. [OA] Schalamun, M., Kainer, D., Beavan, E., Nagar, R., Eccles, D., Rathjen, J., Lanfear, R., Schwessinger, B., 2018. A comprehensive toolkit to enable MinION long-read sequencing in any laboratory. bioRxiv 289579.

  3. [OA] Wang, W., Schalamun, M., Suarez, A.M., Kainer, D., Schwessinger, B., Lanfear, R., 2018. Assembly of chloroplast genomes with long- and short-read data: a comparison of approaches using Eucalyptus pauciflora as a test case. bioRxiv 320085.

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