skip to primary navigationskip to content

Paszkowski Group: Cellular dynamics during invasion by beneficial and pathogenic fungi


Supervisor: Uta Paszkowski (Plant Sciences

Taxonomically diverse biotrophic fungi frequently practice intracellular plant invasion strategies. The resulting interaction is often parasitic, causing disease such as e.g. rusts and mildews. The outcome of the association can however also be mutualistic as in the case of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) symbioses. Intracellular accommodation of fungal hyphae is associated with monumental host cell re-differentiation, which results in the de novo synthesis of a host-derived membrane that surrounds the hyphal structure. An interface is established, composed of fungal and plant membranes and the intercalary matrix that governs the inter-organismic exchange of signals.

We aim to understand commonalities and specificities, and to this end take comparative approaches during the interaction of rice with the beneficial AM fungus Rhizophagus irregularis and the pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae, the causal agent of the foliar rice blast disease. Candidate genes have been identified that are commonly induced during root invasion by either fungus. In order to elucidate which role the corresponding gene products play during the interaction, this PhD project will combine functional studies with cell biological characterisations.


The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.