Molecular Plant Pathology
Group leader prof. Ben Cornelissen
The overall mission of the ‘Molecular Plant Pathology' group is to unravel the molecular basis of disease and disease resistance in plants.
Our research focuses on the molecular interactions between plants and their pathogens. Plants possess a basal defense system that successfully wards of most potential invaders. Hence, the ability to cause disease requires specialisation by the pathogen to allow it to evade or overcome these basal defenses
For in-depth research on the molecular basis of disease susceptibility and resistance, we mainly focus on the interaction between the soil-borne fungus Fusarium oxysporum with tomato ( Solanum esculentum). The fungus infects the roots and colonises the xylem vessels thereby the causing the typical wilt disease symptoms. Resistance to the pathogen complies with a gene-for-gene relationship and currently three resistance genes are used in agriculture to control this disease.
For some aspects of our research, we use the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The genomes of all three organisms have been sequenced and these organisms are amenable to molecular techniques such as transformation, gene-silencing or gene knock-out. Together with advanced microscopy and proteomics techniques, we have developed this interaction into a well-established model system to study the molecular basis of disease resistance and susceptibility in plants
We are member of the Centre for Biosystem Genomics and The Research School Experimental Plant Sciences and have close collaborations with Dutch plant breeding companies in several of our projects (STW, TTI-green genetics, CBSG2012 and Bioexploit), which assures knowledge transfer for practical applications of new discoveries