Research Group Defense Physiology, PD Dr. Axel Mithöfer

Research Topics:

Plant-Microbe Interactions

Herbivory

Carnivorous Plants


Almost all plants can recognize contacts with symbiotic or pathogenic microbes resulting in completely different infection processes which lead to either effective symbioses (e.g. dinitrogen-fixing legume nodules, mycorrhiza) or to plant disease and inducible defense reactions, respectively. The molecular basis of the underlying communication between the organisms involved is still not known. 
A similar scenario is given in the interactions between plants and herbivorous arthropods such as insects or spider mites. How plants are able to recognize herbivores and how they initiate their defenses is an additional topic in the group. Here, a possible role for oxylipins such as jasmonates as signaling compounds that might be involved in such regulation processes is under investigation. Moreover, we analyze the impact of herbivory-associated molecular patterns as well as the impact of wounding; the latter one by using a mechanical larva, MecWorm.

Beside Arabidopsis, the organisms we mainly use in our studies are legumes as these plants are hosts for symbionts, pathogens as well as for pests. In addition to the initial signal perception, early events of the subsequent signal transduction cascades such as different ion fluxes cross the plasma membrane, intracellular calcium transients in different compartments as well as downstream signals, finally leading to cellular (defense) responses are in the focus of our interest.


In a further project we analyze the enzyme cocktails of carnivorous plants by a proteomic approach.

Maffei, M. E., Arimura, G.-I., Mithöfer, A. (2012). Natural elicitors, effectors and modulators of plant responses. Natural Product Reports