Before joining the Huitema lab, I had done a BSc and MSc in Plant Biology in Wageningen, The Netherlands. During my studies I did a major thesis at the Max Planck institute in Cologne in Dr. Renier van der Hoorns group on Activity Based Protein Profiling and genetic variation in Arabidopsis accessions. After this I worked on a small project commissioned by the Plant breeding group of Wageningen UR on social aspects of genetic modification in potato to confer late blight resistance.
I became more interested in the subject and to learn more on the scientific side I did a minor thesis at the plant breeding department where I was involved in both looking for novel Phytophthora infestans effectors as well as looking for new R-genes in potato. After successfully identifying some interesting effectors, Dr. Sophien Kamoun offered me a position in his lab in Norwich where I could combine the knowledge on effectors and the knowledge of Activity Profiling. I worked for nine months on the evolution of extracellular effectors in different Phytophthora species.
In the Huitema Lab, I started my PhD project by looking into the class of CRN effectors. I redid gene identification and annotation of the CRN effectors in P. capsici and performed some initial characterisations, showing that CRNs, unlike their name implies, do not always cause CRinkling and Necrosis. They do however always localise to the plant nucleus where they seem to perform a variety of different tasks. The second part of the project focussed on identifying CRN effector targets in planta and following up CRN-target interactions. Some CRN effectors seem to target highly conserved and important host proteins, suggesting an important basal mechanism during infection.
As a post-doc, I now focus more on the bioinformatics aspects of the work in the lab. These include re-analysis of previously generated microarray analysis to find regulatory motifs involved in infection, analysis of new array data of P. capsici on differen host plants and analysis of large scale RNASeq data (in collaboration with the data analysis group, DAG) to investigate transcriptomic changes in tomato and P. capsici during early infection.