Doctoral Researchers

 
Abdulsalam, Oluwatosin

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JSMC Fellow

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Institute/Dep.
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Institute of Microbiology
Microbial Communication
PhD Project:

Geosmin in the mycorrhizosphere of tricholoma vaccinum

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Abstract: Geosmin, a major contributor to the petrichor (earth smell) observed post-rain fall after a long spell of dryness, is a volatile chemical mainly produced by members of the genera...
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... Streptomyces. Although, many other organisms have been shown to produce this distinctly-smelling volatile, a recent discovery was made that our test organism, Tricholoma vaccinum, produces geosmin. Geosmin being a volatile organic compound (VOC) and with the numerous amount of research on the role of VOCs in communication between biological systems, we therefore are interested in understanding the role of geosmin in the communication between Tricholoma vaccinum and its norway spruce host, Picea abies. We are also interested in understanding the role of geosmin in Tricholoma vaccinum’s microbial community structure establishment. As part of the prelimnary experiments, representative community members of the mycorrhizosphere of Tricholoma vaccinum will be isolated and effects of the interaction between them and Tricholoma vaccinum will be investigated. Also, biosynthesis and the route of biosynthesis of Geosmin in Tricholoma vaccinum will be confirmed and mutants will be generated to help in the analysis of volatile functions in communication, community structure establishment and mycorrhization.
 
 
Aiyar, Prasad

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ILRS Student

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Institute/Dep.
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Institute of General Botany and Plant Physiology
Chair for General Botany
PhD Project:

Molecular dissection of early signaling response in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii under the influence of biotic and abiotic factors

 
 
Al-Zaben, Naim

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JSMC Fellow

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Institute/Dep.
Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans-Knöll-Institute-
Research Group Applied Systems Biology
PhD Project:

Quantitative Analysis of Intercellular Communication from Live Cell Imaging

 
 
Allert, Stefanie

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FungiNet Student

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Institute/Dep.
Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology - Hans-Knöll-Institute-
Dept. Microbial Pathogenicity Mechanisms
PhD Project:

Pathogenicity mechanisms of Candida albicans during translocation through epithelial barriers

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Abstract: Candida albicans normally exists as a harmless commensal on mucosal surfaces, especially in the gut of healthy humans. As one of the most important opportunistic fungal pathogens of...
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... humans, C. albicans can become pathogenic under certain predisposing conditions, leading to severe superficial or even life-threatening systemic infections. The aim of this project is to characterize the transition of C. albicans from colonisation to translocation from the gut - as the main reservoir – to the bloodstream, from where the fungus can infect almost all organs and can cause systemic disease. Thereby fungal factors and attributes that are characteristic or essential for translocation through intestinal epithelial tissue are predicted to be important pathogenicity factors. To elucidate translocation-relevant genes, large-scale mutant libraries will be screened for reduced ability to cause damage of intestinal cells. On the other hand, genome-wide transcription profiles of C. albicans during translocation will be obtained using microarray technologies. Detailed analysis of identified genes, which are expressed during translocation, with an emphasis on genes of unknown function, will be performed and corresponding mutant strains generated. The influence of transient physiological alterations in the gut for triggering C. albicans translocation will be investigated by establishing in vitro gut-mimicking conditions. For example, parameters such as pH or O2 concentration will be manipulated. The results are expected to elucidate molecular and cellular pathogenicity mechanisms enabling and regulating intestinal tissue invasion and dissemination of the fungal pathogen C. albicans during the initial phase of systemic infections. The identified factors, essential for translocation through the gut, represent potential drug targets or biomarkers for clinical application.
 
 
Aurin, Marc-Benjamin

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ILRS Student

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Institute/Dep.
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Chair of Genetics
PhD Project:

How do phytoplasmas generate ‘zombie plants’? Interaction of the bacterial effector protein SAP54 with floral homeotic proteins

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Abstract: Phytoplasmas are pathogenic bacteria that are obligate parasites of plants and transmitting insects [1 3]. They can cause devastating plant diseases, e.g. by reprogramming development...
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... in a way such that leaf-like structures instead of floral organs occur. Infected plants are thus often sterile, mainly serve to reproduce phytoplasmas and hence have been termed ‘zombie plants' [1, 3]. The molecular mechanism underlying the developmental reprogramming relies on specific interactions of a secreted phytoplasma protein called SAP54 (or PHYLLOGEN1) with a subset of MIKC-type MADS-domain transcription factors involved in controlling flower development [1, 2]. The secreted part of SAP54 interacts with the keratin-like domain (K domain) of MIKC proteins and destines them for degradation [1], so that they cannot constitute ‘floral quartets’ anymore, the protein complexes that specify floral organ identity [4]. Based on the recently published X-ray crystal structure of a K domain and detailed in silico analyses [5, 6] we have developed three hypotheses: i) SAP54-like proteins form a structure which is very similar to that of the K domain; ii) The interaction between SAP54 and the plant MIKC proteins is mediated by a mechanism that resembles the interaction of two K domains in floral quartets; iii) SAP54 mimics the K-domain structure as a result of convergent protein evolution [6]. We want to test these hypotheses by determining the structure of SAP54-like proteins and studying the interaction between these proteins and MIKC proteins. References 1. MacLean AM, et al. (2014) PLoS Biol 12, e1001835 2. Maejima K, et al. (2014) Plant J 78, 541-554 3. Du Toit A (2014) Nature Rev Microbiol 12, 393-393 4. Gramzow L, Theißen G (2010) Genome Biol 11, 214 5. Puranik S, et al. (2014) Plant Cell 26, 3603-3615. 6. Rümpler F, et al. (2015) Trends Plant Sci (in press)