Photographer: Onbekend

dr. ir. H.A. (Harrold) van den Burg

  • Faculty of Science
    Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences
  • Visiting address
    Science Park A
    Science Park 904  Room number: C2.214
  • Postal address:
    Postbus  94215
    1090 GE  Amsterdam
    T: 0205257797
    T: 0205257706

Research Interest

Within my research team, we study the molecular interactions between bacteria and virusses on how they infect their host plants.


  • We study the role of the SUMO E3 ligase SIZ1 on plant immunity via the immune receptor SNC1 and how SIZ1 affects plant growth via the ubiquitin E3 ligase COP1.
  • We study Block Rot disease caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas in Arabidopsis en how its effectors control the infection process, e.g.. its effector XopD acts as SUMO protease and contributes to tolerance to Xanthomonas.
  • Together with Prof. dr. M. Prins we are studying the Geminivirus-tomato interaction. Geminiviruses are ssDNA virusses that need the host DNA replication machinery for replication of the viral DNA. We are studying the protein-protein interactions between the essential viral protein REP and the host DNA replication machinery.


SUMO as suppressor of the Plant innate immunity

Key to the survival of any organism is the ability to defend itself. This defense response  relies on transcriptional reprogramming in the first hours after invasion, and often results in programmed cell death and the accumulation of anti-microbial compounds. Our research indicates that protein modification SUMO is essential as 'hand-break' on plant defense in Arabidopsis, but also a growth regulator via the ubiquitin E3 ligase COP1. Currently, we are studying how SUMO conjugation affects immunity and growth.

Our group revealed that SUMO acts as suppressor of these plant immunity (Van den Burg et al., 2010). The SUMO E3 ligase SIZ1 controls accumulation of the  hormone Salicylic acid. We demonstrated that this involves conjugation of the SUMO1 and -2. SUMO is as a protein modifier that is coupled to other proteins. The targets for SUMO conjugation are predominantly nuclear proteins. We study the effect of SUMO on gene regulation via SIZ1.

We have now proposed an evolutionairy model explaining the birth-and-death of the SUMO paralogs in the model plant Arabidopsis (Hammoudi et al., 2016). This model revealed that paralog SUMO3 only recently evolved in Brassicaceae, while  SUMO5 appears to be of ancient origin, close the WGT-gamma event (near the base of the dicot species redation). Our model also reveals how the speudogenes SUMO4/6 have retained an 'archtype' SUMO identity in other plant species.


Durable resistance against Black Rot in Brassica.

Black Rot, caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris (Xcc), remains a devastating disease on Brassica crops worldwide. Xcc is one of few foliar bacterial pathogens that colonize its host through organs on the leaf margins, called hydathodes, which stand in direct contact with the leaf vasculature. After dissolution of the hydathode, Xcc colonizes the xylem vessels. Recent studies have shown that Xcc proliferates in the hydathode and subsequently colonizes the vasculature in a type III secretion-dependent manner, indicating that the epithem tissue in the hydathode mounts an immune response.


Hydathode gutation forms the entry point of the bacteria

We have developed a ‘hydathode guttation’  entry assay for the bacteria. This allows us to disect the genetic basis for bacterial ingress. We study both the mechanisms that allow bacterial ingress and provide resistance to the host plant in these hydathodes. For genetic screens, we have optimized a bioluminescent reporter, which allows us to follow bacterial invasion via hydathodes and subsequent systemic spread in the vasculature.

Entry of fluorescent Xanthomonas bacteria (yellow) in the hydathode of Cabbage leaf and colonization of its vasculature


Other Team Leaders Molecular Plant Pathology

Molecular Plant Pathology is headed by Prof. dr. Ben Cornelissen. The other PIs in MPP are:


Green Life Sciences

Witin the University of Amsterdam, plant research is a Research priority. We have five different groups in  Green Life Sciences:

  • Molecular Plant Pathology
  • Plant Physiology
  • Plant Cell Biology
  • Plant Development & (Epi)Genetics
  • Plant Hormone Biology


If you are interested in plant research topics at the University of Amsterdam you can visit our Green Life Sciences website. The website also offers information on our MSc program Green Life Sciences. Our groups are positioned within the research institute SILS (Swammerdam Instute for Life Sciences).


We also participate in the Dutch graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences that acts as a training platform for our PhD students.


Hammoudi V, Fokkens L, Beerens B, Vlachakis G, Chatterjee S, Arroyo-Mateos M, Wackers PFK, Jonker MJ, and van den Burg HA (2018). The Arabidopsis SUMO E3 ligase SIZ1 mediates the temperature dependent trade-off between plant immunity and growth, PLoS Genetics (published early on-line).



Mazur MJ, Spears BJ, Djajasaputra, A, Van der Gragt M, Vlachakis G, Beerens B, Gassmann W and van den Burg HA (2017). Arabidopsis TCP Transcription Factors Interact with the SUMO Conjugating Machinery in Nuclear Foci. Frontiers in Plant Sciences,


Hansen LL, van den Burg HA, van Ooijen G (2017). Sumoylation Contributes to Timekeeping and Temperature Compensation of the Plant Circadian Clock. J Biol Rhythms.  Nov 1:748730417737633. doi: 10.1177/0748730417737633.


Hansen LL, Imrie L, Le Bihan T, van den Burg HA, van Ooijen G (2017) Sumoylation of the Plant Clock Transcription Factor CCA1 Suppresses DNA Binding. J. Biol. Rhythms.  Nov 1:748730417737695. doi: 10.1177/0748730417737695.


Hammoudi V, Vlachakis G, de Jonge R, Breit TM, van den Burg HA (2017) Genetic characterization of T-DNA insertions in the genome of the Arabidopsis thaliana sumo1/2 knock-down line, Plant Signal Behav. 12(3):e1293216. doi: 10.1080/15592324.2017.1293216.


Zhao T, Holmer R, de Bruijn S, Angenent GC, van den Burg HA, Schranz ME (2017) Phylogenomic Synteny Network Analysis of MADS-Box Transcription Factor Genes Reveals Lineage-Specific Transpositions, Ancient Tandem Duplications, and Deep Positional Conservation. Plant Cell. 29:1278-1292. doi: 10.1105/tpc.17.00312



Di X, Gomila J, Ma L, van den Burg HA, Takken FLW (2016) Uptake of the Fusarium Effector Avr2 by Tomato Is Not a Cell Autonomous Event, Front Plant Sci. 21;7:1915. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01915


Hammoudi V, Vlachakis G, Schranz ME, van den Burg HA. (2016) Whole-genome duplications followed by tandem duplications drive diversification of the protein modifier SUMO in Angiosperms, Phytol. 2016 Jul;211(1):172-85. doi: 10.1111/nph.13911



Ilyas, M., Horger, A.C., Bozkurt, T.O., van den Burg, H.A., Kaschani, F., Kaiser, M., Belhaj, K., Smoker, M., Joosten, M.J.H.A., Kamoun, S., and an der Hoorn, R.A.L.,(2015), Functional Divergence of Two Secreted Immune Proteases of Tomato, Current Biology 25(1-7).



Liebrand, T.W.H., van den Burg, H.A., Joosten, M.H.A.J. (2014), Two for all: receptor-associated kinases SOBIR1 and BAK1, Trends Plant Sciences, 19(2):123-32.



Ma, L., van den Burg, H.A., Cornelissen, B.J.C. and Takken, F.L.W. (2013) Molecular Basis of Effector Recognition by Plant NB-LRR Proteins, chapter 2 page 23-40. In Wiley-Blackwell, editor Sessa, G. eds. ISBN-13: 978-0470959503



De Wit, P.J.G.M.*, van der Burgt, A., Ökmen, B., Stergiopoulos, I.,       Abd-Elsalam, K., Aerts, A.L., Bahkali, A.H.A., Beenen, H.G., Chettri, P., Cox, M.P., Datema, E., de Vries, R.P., Dhillon, B., Ganley, A.R., Griffiths, S., Guo, Y., Hamelin, R.C., Henrissat, B., Kabir, M.S., Karimi Jashni, M.,  Kema, G., Klaubauf, S., Lapidus, A., Levasseur, A., Lindquist, E., Mehrabi, R., Ohm, R.A., Owen, T., Salamov, A., Schwelm, A., Schijlen, E., Sun, H., van den Burg, H.A., van Ham, R.C.H.J., Zhang, S., Goodwin, S.B., Grigoriev, I.V., Collemare, J., and Bradshaw, R.E.* (2012). The genomes of the fungal plant pathogens Cladosporium fulvum and Dothistroma septosporum reveal adaptation to different hosts and lifestyles but also signatures of common ancestry. PLoS Genetics, 8:e1003088.


Mazur, M.J. and van den Burg, H.A. (2012). Global SUMO proteome responses guide gene regulation, mRNA biogenesis, and plant stress responses. Front. Plant Sci. 3:215. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00215.



van den Burg, H.A  and Takken, F.L.W. (2010) SUMO-, MAPK-, and resistance protein-signaling converge at transcription complexes that regulate plant innate immunity, Plant Signalling and Behaviour 5:1.

van den Burg, H.A., Kini, R., Schuurink, R. andTakken, F.L.W. * (2010) . A rabidopsis SUMO paralogs have distinct functions in development and innate immunity, Plant Cell 22:1998-2016 

Stergiopoulos, I., Van den Burg, H.A. , Ökmen, B., Beenen, H., Van Liere, S., Kema, G.H.J. and De Wit, P.J.G.M (2010).Tomato Cf resistance proteinsmediate recognition of cognate homologous effectors from fungi pathogenic on dicots and monocots , Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA .107: 7610-7615.

van Ooijen, G., Vossen, J.H., Van den Burg, H.A., Roels, W., Cornelissen, B.J.C. and Takken F.L.W. (2010) HSP17 interacts with, and is required for function and stability of tomato resistance protein I-2, Plant Journal 63:563-572 .



de Wit, P.J.G.M., Mehrabi, R., van den Burg, H.A. and Stergiopoulos, I. (2009) , Fungal effector proteins: past, presence and future, Mol. Plant Pathol. 10(6):735-747.

van den Burg, H.A., and Takken, F.L.W. (2009) . Does chromatin remodeling mark systemic acquired resistance? Trends Plant Sci. 14, 286-294.



van den Burg, H.A., Tsitsigiannis, D.I., Rowland, O., Lo, J., Rallapalli, G., MacLean, D., Takken, F.L.W., and Jones, J.D.G. (2008) . The F-Box protein ACRE189/ACIF1 regulates cell death and defense responses activated during pathogen recognition in tobacco and tomato, Plant Cell 20 , 697-719.



Van Ooijen, G. , Van den Burg H.A., Cornelissen,B.J.C., Takken F.L.W. (2007) Structure and Function of Resistance Proteins in Solanaceous Plants, Ann. Rev. Phytopathol. 40, 43-72.



Van den Burg, H.A. , Harrison, S., Joosten, M.H.A.J., Vervoort, J. and de Wit, P.J.G.M. (2006) . Cladosporium fulvum Avr4 protects fungal cell walls against hydrolysis by plant chitinases accumulating during infection, Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 19, 1420-1430.



van den Burg, H.A. , Spronk, C.A.E.M., Boeren, S., Kennedy, M.A. Visser, J.P.C., Vuister, G.W., de Wit, P.J.G.M., and Vervoort, J. (2004) . Binding of the AVR4 elicitor of Cladosporium fulvum to chitotriose units is facilitated by positive allosteric protein-protein interactions , J. Biol. Chem. 279, 16786-16796.


van 't Slot, K.A.E., van den Burg, H.A. , Kloks, C.P.A.M., Hilbers, C.W., Knogge, W., and Papavoine, C.H.M. (2003) Solution structure of the fungal plant disease resistance-triggeringprotein NIP1 shows a novelbeta-sheet fold, J. Biol. Chem. 278, 45730-45736.


van den Burg,H.A. , Westerink, N.,Francoijs, K.-J., Roth,R.,Woestenenk, E., Boeren, S., de Wit, P.J.G.M., Joosten, M.H.A.J., and Vervoort, J. (2003) . Natural disulfide bond disrupted mutants of AVR4 of the tomato pathogen Cladosporium fulvum are sensitive to proteolysis, thereby, circumventing Cf-4mediated resistance, J. Biol. Chem. 278, 27340-27346.


Westerink, N., Roth, R., van den Burg, H.A. , de Wit , P.J.G.M., and Joosten, M.H.A.J. (2002) . The AVR4 elicitor protein of Cladosporium fulvum binds to fungal components with high affinity, Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 15, 1219-1227.


Rivas, S., Mucyn, T., van den Burg, H.A. , Vervoort, J., and Jones, J.D.G. (2002) . An ~400 kDa membrane-associated complex that contains one molecule of the resistance protein Cf-4, Plant J. 29,783-796.


de Wit, P.J.G.M., Brandtwagt, B.F., van den Burg, H.A. , Cai, X., van der Hoorn, R.A.L., de Jong, C.F., van Klooster, J., de Kock, M.J.D., Kruijt, M., Lindhout, W.H., Luderer, R., Takken, F.L., Westerink, N., Vervoort, J., and Joosten, M.H.A.J . (2002) .The molecular basis of co-evolution between Cladosporium fulvum and tomato, Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 81, 409-412.


van den Burg, H.A. , de Wit, P.J.G.M., and Vervoort, J. (2001) . Efficient 13C/15N- double labeling of the avirulence protein AVR4in a methanol-utilizing strain (Mut(+)) of Pichia pastoris , J. Biomol. NMR 20, 251-261.


van den Hooven, H.W., van den Burg, H.A. , Vossen, P., Boeren, S., de Wit, P.J.G.M., and Vervoort, J. (2001) . Disulfide bond structure of the AVR9 elicitor of the fungal tomato pathogen Cladosporium fulvum : Evidence for a cystine knot, Biochemistry 40, 3458-3466.


Visser, A.J.W.G., van den Berg, P.A.W., Visser, N.V., van Hoek, A., van den Burg, H.A. , Parsonage, D., and Claiborne, A. (1998) . Time-resolved fluorescence of Flavin Adenine Dinucleotide in wild-type and mutant NADH Peroxidase. Elucidation of quenching sites and discovery of a new fluorescence depolarization mechanism, J. Phy. Chem B 102, 10431-10439.


Other Patents (application), experience with valorization

van den Burg, H.A., de Wit, P.J.G.M., and Vervoort, J. (inventors) (publication date

06/26/2003;Filing date:07/26/2002). Efficient 13C/15N double labeling of proteins in a methanol-utilizing strain (Mut+) of Pichia pastoris, US patent 20030119109.



SUMO wrestling determines expression of plant defense genes


  • There are always possibilities for students to perform a practical period (minimal 4 months) in our Lab - Please inquire for specific projects currently available.



  • The SUMO E3 ligase SIZ1 acts both in the SNC1 immune pathway and the COP1 growth pathway. The latter protein is a ubiquitin E3 ligase, while the first protein is an immune receptor of the TNL type. In our lab we try to use genetics approaches combined with biochemistry to study how SIZ1 affects growth and immunity.


  • Depending on the length of the practical training period, projects involve a diverse array of techniques: protein isolation and immunoblotting, SUMO conjugation assays, analysis of mutant plants (including genotyping), real-time PCR, protein-protein interactions assays, like yeast 2-hybrid, BiFC, split luciferase.

Contact details: Harrold van den Burg


Exploring basal resistance against Xanthomonas in Arabidopsis



  • Black Rot is a devastating disease in Brassica crops (e.g. cabbage, cauliflower). It is caused by the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris (Xcc). Xcc enters the plant through specialized organs on the leaf margin, called hydathodes, and spreads from there through the vasculature. In our group we use Arabidopsis thaliana, a member of the Brassicaceae family, as model system to study this disease. This allows us to make use of the molecular and genetic tools that exist for Arabidopsis.


  • Depending on the length of the training period, projects involve a diverse array of techniques: tri-parental mating, Golden gate cloning, Xanthomonas disease assays, ROS burst measurements, real-time PCR, staining with Trypan blue, western blotting to detect activation of kinases, working with the model plant Arabidopsis etc.

Contact: Marieke van hulten

Group members


Bas Beerens, research technician

  • Functional studies of the role of SUMO in heat sensory growth and high temperature immunity


Tieme Helderman, PhD student

  • Identification of novel interacting proteins of the Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus N and L proteins
  • [NWO-TTW]


Francesca Maio, PhD student

  • Characterization of the molecular interaction of REP protein of the Geminivirus  with the plant SUMO system
  • [Collarborative project with the biotechnology company KeyGene]


Mark Kwaitaal, PostDoc

  • Study of the functional interaction between PCNA and the REP protein of the Geminivirus
  • Topsector TKI-U


Manolo Arroyo, technician

  • Screening of novel interactions of the Gemini virus protein REP protein with the host DNA replication machinery
  • Topsector TKI-U


Marieke van Hulten, Postdoc

  • Functional genomics on bacterial disease in Arabidopsis
  • Topsector TKI-U


Sayantani Chatterjee, Technician

  • Functional genomics on bacterial disease in Arabidopsis
  • Topsector TKI-U
  • No ancillary activities

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