In their natural environment, plants are constantly exposed to a wide variety of microbes. These include plant pathogens, which can infect the plant tissue to gain access to energy: soil-borne pathogens enter into root, but also can migrate to xylem or phloem. Air-borne pathogens infect aerial parts such as leaves, stems, or fruits.
We aim at understanding various aspects of the infection process in two different fungal systems:
Ustilago maydis / Zea mays
Role of Rrm4-dependent mRNA transport in pathogenic development
(in collaboration with RAB lab)
The phytopathogen Ustilago maydis is the causative agent of the corn smut disease. During its non-pathogenic phase U. maydis proliferates yeast-like via budding while colonization of its host plant Zea mays requires a morphological transition to infectious filaments. The formation of filaments and subsequent in planta proliferation sets special requirements on the long-distance transport of macromolecules like proteins, lipids, as well as mRNAs. The RNA-binding protein Rrm4 of U. maydis mediates microtubule-dependent mRNA-transport. rrm4-deletion strains show reduced virulence since plants show attenuated disease symptoms. Thus, we hypothesize that the reduced virulence might be due to defects in plant/fungus communication.
- Unraveling the molecular function of Rrm4-dependent mRNA transport during pathogenic development.