Biochemical Plant Physiology

In their natural environment, plants are constantly exposed to a wide variety of microbes. These include plant pathogens, which can infect the plant tissue to gain access to energy: soil-borne pathogens enter into root, but also can migrate to xylem or phloem. Air-born pathogens infect aerial parts such as leaves, stems, or fruits.

In contrast to animals, plants rely solely on their innate immune system to cope with pathogens. It allows the plant to recognize pathogens and react appropriately in a cell autonomous fashion. In a first step, conserved pathogenassociated molecular patterns (PAMPs) are recognized by plant cell surface receptors leading to activation of defence responses. In most cases, these reactions are sufficient to prevent infection without any damage to the plant cell. Successful pathogens, however, inject effector proteins into the plant cell, which suppress immunity and create a favourable environment for the pathogen. This leads to severe disease symptoms. In response, plants have evolved resistance genes that recognize specifically individual effectors and potentiate defence responses leading to programmed cell death. Cell death of the infected and neighbouring cells limits pathogen growth, but at the cost of part of the plant tissue.

During an infection, the primary metabolism in plants is altered. Induction of defence responses requires energy, and photo-assimilates serve as carbon source in the synthesis of defence compounds. This causes an increased demand for photosynthesis in the plant.

In addition, pathogens withdraw sugars and thereby further augment the consumption of carbon compounds. Conversely, pathogen infection often leads to a decrease in photosynthesis. This might be an active process to protect the photosynthetic machinery against damage, could be a consequence of damage, or result from a prioritization of metabolic processes in favour of defence reaction.

Future Projects and Goals

  • Understanding how photosynthesis is altered in response to pathogens using physiological, biochemical and genetic approaches.
  • Analysing the contribution of photosynthesis to plant immunity.

Selected Publications

Spallek T, Robatzek S, Göhre V (2009) How microbes utilize host ubiquitination.
Cell Microbiol 11: 1425-1434. undefinedsee abstract...

Göhre V, Robatzek S (2008) Breaking the barriers: microbial effector molecules
subvert plant immunity.
Annu Rev Phytopathol 46: 189-215. undefinedsee abstract...

Göhre V, Spallek T, Häweker H, Mersmann S, et al. (2008) Plant patternrecognition
receptor FLS2 is directed for degradation by the bacterial ubiquitin ligase AvrPtoB.
Curr Biol 18: 1824-1832. undefinedsee abstract...











Photos: Hanne Horn

Dr. Vera Göhre


Curriculum Vitae

Ph.D. work with Jean-David Rochaix, University of Geneva, CH (2006)

Postdoctoral work with Silke Robatzek, MPI for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne

Postdoctoral work with Silke Robatzek, The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK

Research Associate with Prof. Andreas Weber, Institute for Plant Biochemistry,
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (since 2010)

Verantwortlich für den Inhalt: E-Mail sendenA.P.M Weber