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Melanie Kastl (Köln University)

Melanie Kastl's Master thesis was awarded with the Prize for the Best Plant Science Master Thesis, which was carried out at Köln University in the year 2019.

Title: Functional characterization of the Ustilago maydis organ-specific effectors: UMAG05306 and UMAG11060

Two effectors of Ustilago maydis, the causative agent of corn smut disease, were localized in planta and their (putative) targets were identified and described.

Ustilago maydis parasitizes all aerial parts of the maize plant by inducing tumour formation. In order to establish biotrophy, U. maydis secretes effectors that inhibit the plant defence responses and modulate the host metabolism. Co-immunoprecipitation experiments and localization assays with fluorescent labelled effectors were performed to functionally characterize two U. maydis effectors including UMAG5306 and UMAG11060. We have shown that both effectors are secreted during host colonization and involved in fungal virulence. Furthermore, interaction studies revealed that UMAG05306 interacts and/or modulate with plant cytoskeleton, while UMAG11060 interacts with host defence component to suppress immunity. These findings will bring more insight in how fungi interfere with the plant immune system and to understand the mechanism of susceptibility and resistance.


Melanie Kastl conducted this work at the Institute of Botany/ Chair of Terrestrial Microbiology in the group of Prof. Dr. Gunther Döhlemann.