Our research focuses on crown gall tumor disease which results from an infection of plants with Agrobacterium species. These plant pathogens transform plant cells by transferring a piece of DNA, the T-DNA, into the plant genome. T-DNA harboring plant cells proliferate continuously and give rise to tumor formation. Several economically important crop plants such as grapevine, fruit and walnut trees are susceptible to Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Tumor formation causes severe crop loss and may even kill the plant. Thus, it is important to understand the principles of plant cell transformation and crown gall tumor biology to defend this disease.
Our studies focus on host plant responses to Agrobacterium infection, transformation and development of the crown gall. We aim to unravel the molecular genetic und physiological mechanisms accompanying Agrobacterium-infections and subsequent crown gall tumor development.
- Our experiments involve:
- Analysis of epigenetic DNA modifications,
- Regulation of gene expression,
- Analysis of protein functions,
- Genome editing tools
- Mutant and transgenic plants.
We perform large-scale experiments to examine the methylome, transcriptome and metabolome/lipidome of infected plants and crown galls, but also study the role of single genes in plant tumor development. For most experiments the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana is used enabling application of a large spectrum of molecular and biotechnological tools such as:
- Deep sequencing,
- Quantitative real time PCR
- Agrobacterium-mediated transformation techniques,
- Different protein expression systems,
- Protein-DNA binding assays,
- Chromatin immunoprecipitation.
- RNA interference