Rathjen Group - Plant immunity




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Our Group works on all aspects of plant immunity, characterising the fascinating interplay between host and pathogen. We study two complementary pathosystems; infection of tomato by the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae, and the devastating disease wheat stripe rust which is caused by the fungus Puccinia striiformis. We seek to understand how the plant recognises the presence of invasive microbes through detection of characteristic components such as cell wall molecules, how plant receptor complexes are activated, and the signal transduction events that transform these recognition events into immunity. We have made seminal discoveries on how pathogens try to shut down plant immunity using their complements of virulence effector molecules, and in turn how the plant has evolved sophisticated molecular mechanisms to trap these effectors and activate defenses. We are leaders in the protein biochemistry of plant signal transduction and pathogen genomics. 

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Boutrot F, Segonzac C, Chang K, Qiao H, Ecker J, Zipfel C, Rathjen J: Direct transcriptional control of the Arabidopsis immune receptor FLS2 by the ethylene-dependent transcription factors EIN3 and EIL1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2010, 107:14502-14507.

Dodds P, Rathjen J: Plant immunity: towards an integrated view of plant-pathogen interactions. Nature Reviews Genetics 2010, 11:539-548.

GIMENEZ-IBANEZ S, HANN D, NTOUKAKIS V, PETUTSCHNIG E, LIPKA V, RATHJEN J: AvrPtoB Targets the LysM Receptor Kinase CERK1 to Promote Bacterial Virulence on Plants. CURRENT BIOLOGY 2009, 19:423-429.

Hann D, Gimenez-Ibanez S, Rathjen J: Bacterial virulence effectors and their activities. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 2010, 13:388-393.

Heese A, Hann DR, Gimenez-Ibanez S, Jones AME, He K, Li J, Schroeder JI, Peck SC, Rathjen JP: The receptor-like kinase SERK3/BAK1 is a central regulator of innate immunity in plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2007, 104:12217-12222.

Mucyn TS, Clemente A, Andriotis VME, Balmuth AL, Oldroyd GED, Staskawicz BJ, Rathjen JP: The tomato NBARC-LRR protein Prf interacts with Pto kinase in vivo to regulate specific plant immunity. Plant Cell 2006, 18:2792-2806.

NTOUKAKIS V, MUCYN T, GIMENEZ-LBANEZ S, CHAPMAN H, GUTIERREZ J, BALMUTH A, JONES A, RATHJEN J: Host Inhibition of a Bacterial Virulence Effector Triggers Immunity to Infection. SCIENCE 2009, 324:784-787.

RATHJEN J, CHANG J, STASKAWICZ B, MICHELMORE R: Constitutively active Pto induces a Prf-dependent hypersensitive response in the absence of avrPto. EMBO JOURNAL 1999, 18:3232-3240.

SCOFIELD S, TOBIAS C, RATHJEN J, CHANG J, LAVELLE D, MICHELMORE R, STASKAWICZ B: Molecular basis of gene-for-gene specificity in bacterial speck disease of tomato. SCIENCE 1996, 274:2063-2065.

WU A, ANDRIOTIS V, DURRANT M, RATHJEN J: A patch of surface-exposed residues mediates negative regulation of immune signaling by tomato Pto kinase. PLANT CELL 2004, 16:2809-2821.


PS Seminar Series - Tales from the transcriptome: Characterising FERONIA function through comparative gene expression analysis

Event | Fri 25 February 2022
FERONIA (FER) is a plant receptor kinase of many functions, binding to pectin in the cell wall and mediating an astoundingly broad range of plant activities.

PS Seminar Series- Immune signalling transduction from TIR-NLR resistance proteins to helper NLR proteins

Event | Fri 30 July 2021
Plant resistance proteins act as immune receptors to recognise pathogen effectors and activate defense.
Recorded PS Webinar Yiheng Hu exit

PS Webinar Series- PhD Exit Seminar: Pathogen detection and microbial community compositions during fungal infections

Event | Fri 5 February 2021
Devastating fungal diseases threaten global food security and plant and animal populations, highlighting the need for rapid and accurate identification of fungal pathogens.

PS Webinar Series: Co-evolutionary diversification of barley MLA immune receptors by sequence-unrelated powdery mildew AVRA effectors

Event | Wed 5 August 2020
Disease resistance is mediated by recognition of pathogen avriulence effectors (AVR) through host nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat receptors (NLR).

PS Webinar Series: The stem rust fungus Puccinia graminis f. sp. tritici induces centromeric small RNAs during late infection that direct genome-wide DNA methylation

Event | Wed 22 July 2020
Silencing of transposable elements (TEs) is essential for maintaining genome stability. Plants use small RNAs (sRNAs) to direct DNA methylation to TEs (RNA-directed DNA methylation; RdDM). Similar mechanisms of epigenetic silencing in the fungal kingdom have remained elusive.

PS Seminar Series: PhD Exit Seminar: Phylogenomics and population genetics of global lineages of the wheat stripe rust pathogen Puccinia striiformis

Event | Fri 5 July 2019

Abstaract  - Wheat stripe rust, also known as yellow rust, is one of the most devastating diseases of wheat worldwide.

New study may help improve brain health and food security

Story | Sunday 23 August 2020
Research into the self-destruction of cells in humans and plants could lead to treatments for brain diseases and the development of disease-resistant plants.

Sam Periyannan

Story | Thursday 13 December 2018
Sam Periyannan was born and brought up on a small sugar cane farm in Southern India. He never dreamed he would become a crop researcher, rather than a cane farmer.

Research working to make wheat fungus a thing of the past

Story | Monday 21 May 2018
Researchers have a new understanding of the genetic makeup of a fungus that causes the disease Wheat Stripe Rust, one of the most destructive wheat diseases globally costing $1 billion annually.

Trigger found for defence to rice crop disease

Story | Monday 27 July 2015
Biologists have discovered how the rice plant's immune system is triggered by disease, in a discovery that could boost crop yields and lead to more disease-resistant types of rice.