University of Dundee

"2017 Distinguished Lecture"- "Keeping up with the Plant Destroyers – The Two-Speed Genomes of Filamentous Plant Pathogens"

Event Date: 
Thursday, November 16, 2017 - 16:00 to 17:00
Event Location: 
MSI Large Lecture Theatre
Event Speaker: 
Sophien Kamoun
The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich
Event Type: 
Named Lecture


Fungi and oomycetes include deep and diverse lineages of eukaryotic plant pathogens. The last ~10 years have seen the sequencing of the genomes of a multitude of species of these so-called filamentous plant pathogens. Already, fundamental concepts have emerged. Filamentous plant pathogen genomes tend to harbor large repertoires of genes encoding virulence effectors that modulate host plant processes. Effector genes are not randomly distributed across the genomes but tend to be associated with compartments enriched in repetitive sequences and transposable elements. These findings have led to the ‘two- speed genome’ model in which filamentous pathogen genomes have a bipartite architecture with gene sparse, repeat rich compartments serving as a cradle for adaptive evolution. Here, I will review this concept and discuss how plant pathogens are great model systems to study evolutionary adaptations at multiple time scales. I will also introduce the next phase of research on this topic.



Sophien Kamoun joined The Sainsbury Laboratory in 2007 and served as Head of Laboratory from 2009 to 2014. He is also Professor of Biology at The University of East Anglia. Prof. Kamoun received his B.Sc degree from Pierre and Marie Curie University, Paris, France, and his Ph.D. in Genetics from UC Davis in 1991. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the NSF Center for Engineering Plants for Resistance Against Pathogens, UC Davis, and at the Department of Phytopathology, Wageningen University, Netherlands. From 1998-2007, Prof. Kamoun was on the faculty at the Ohio State University, Department of Plant Pathology, Wooster campus. 


At The Sainsbury Laboratory, Prof. Kamoun studies the interactions between plants and pathogens, combining molecular and comparative analyses to interpret mechanisms of pathogenicity and immunity from an evolutionary perspective. Throughout his career, Prof. Kamoun made unique and ground-breaking contributions to understanding plant-parasite interactions. He discovered the first families of virulence effector proteins from oomycetes, the group of plant pathogens that includes the Irish potato famine pathogen. He developed a mechanistic understanding of how effectors modulate plant immunity, establishing how antagonistic coevolution with host plants impacts pathogen genomes. His pioneering work on effector biology and pathogenomics resulted in new approaches to breeding disease resistant crops.


Prof. Kamoun received the American Phytopathological Society Syngenta Award in 2003 and the Noel Keen Award in 2013. He was elected to the Academia Europaea in 2011, EMBO in 2015, received European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Investigator Awards in 2011 and 2016, and is a Thomson Reuters 2014/2015 Highly Cited Researcher.


Kamoun Lab Web Site


Twitter @KamounLab


Wine reception to follow.