“Photosynthesis on the molecular level – this was the topic that triggered my huge interest in plant biochemistry already during high school. Plants, being sessile organisms, are exposed to a multitude of biotic and often pathogenicity factors, and for me it’s the most fascinating kind of research to figure out on the protein biochemical level how plants cope with these challenges.
I studied biochemistry with the main focus on plant biochemistry at the Martin-Luther-University Halle/Wittenberg and gained my first plant-pathogen insight during my diploma. My PhD, beginning in 2003, at the Eberhard-Karls-University of Tuebingen under supervision of Professor Thorsten Nürnberger concentrated on the functional and molecular characterisation of the effector protein HrpZ from phytopathogenic Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola. In 2009 I moved on to work on another pathogen in the lab of Professor Paul Birch at the University of Dundee, where my main research focussed on the recognition of the Phytophthora infestans effector protein Avr3a by the potato resistance protein R3a.
In March 2015 I joined the Huitema lab where I will continue my main research interest in unravelling the mechanisms of how oomycete effector proteins contribute to undermining plant defense reactions. Using yeast-2-hybrid combined with CoIP and Confocal Microscopy analysis my aim is to find plant virulence targets of Phytophthora capsici effector proteins. The future objective, creating 3D models of effector-target-complexes (protein-protein or protein-DNA) with the help of protein crystallization, could provide new tools to generate plants with more durable resistance.”