Plant cell signaling at the interface of growth and defense

Research Focus

A key question in biology is how organisms “adapt” or acquire environment-dependent fitness advantages. Plants must grow fast enough to compete with their neighbors, while maintaining appropriate defenses to survive in the presence of pathogens. Understanding how plants make the "decision" to keep safe from harm while growing is crucial to our quest for an abundant food supply and cheap, dependable sources of energy. In my laboratory we utilize of a complex array of technologies to understand how light and growth hormones signals allow plants to optimize the fluctuating investments they are making towards growth and defense in specific cells and organs but also at the population level. The laboratory aims at training a new breed of scientists who will not only be able to integrate plant developmental processes in the face of plant defenses but will also understand plant defense responses in the context of environmental (light) and endogenous cues (hormones).

Selected Publications

Xiao Y, Stegmann M, Han Z, et al. (2019) Mechanisms of RALF peptide perception by a heterotypic receptor complex. Nature 572(7768):270-4.

Ahmed H, Howton TC, Sun Y, Weinberger N, Beklhadir Y, Mukhtar MS (2018) Network biology discovers pathogen contact points in host protein-protein interactomes. Nat Commun 9(1):2312.

Smakowska-Luzan E, G. Adam Mott, ..., Belkhadir Y (2018) An extracellular network of Arabidopsis leucine-rich repeat receptor kinases. Nature 553(7688):342-6.

Doblas VG, Smakowska-Luzan E, Fujita S, et al. (2017) Root diffusion barrier control by a vasculature-derived peptide binding to the SGN3 receptor. Science 355(6322):280-4.

Stegmann M, Monaghan J, Smakowska-Luzan E, et al. (2017) The receptor kinase FER is a RALF-regulated scaffold controlling plant immune signaling. Science 355(6322):287-9.

Group Leader

Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Assistant

Staff Scientist