Imperial College London

Dr Tolga Bozkurt

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Life Sciences




+44 (0)20 7594 5381o.bozkurt




603Sir Alexander Fleming BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Effectors as molecular probes to uncover the Mechanisms of microbial accommodation inside the plant cells


Many filamentous plant pathogens including fungi and oomycetes are accommodated within the host cells through specialized cellular structures. For instance, some filamentous plant pathogens form specialized infection structures termed haustoria to deliver effector proteins that can modulate host immunity or mediate nutrient uptake. However, little is known about molecular mechanisms underlying microbial accommodation inside the plant cells. Our aim is to characterize the host processes required for accommodation of filamentous plant pathogens inside the plant cells with a specific focus on illustrating the role of plant endomembrane transport system and identify perturbations caused by the pathogens.

These processes have been difficult to dissect using standard genetic approaches due to overlap between focal immunity and plant development. We recently discovered that some of the Pathogen secreted effectors specifically accumulate around haustoria (perihaustorial effectors) and provide an excellent alternative to study plant focal immunity (Bozkurt et al., 2011, Saunders et al., 2012).

We deploy perihaustorial effectors as molecular probes and use a multifaceted approach including cell biology, biochemical and genetic methods to investigate the mechanisms and perturbations in host endomembrane system within the plant cells that accommodate haustoria.

Model pathosystem

We mainly use haustoria forming oomycete pathogens such as Phytophthora infestans and Peronospora tabacina as well as some fungal species, which can infect the model solanaceous plant Nicotiana benthamiana.

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Dagdas YF, Belhaj K, Maqbool A, et al., 2016, An effector of the Irish potato famine pathogen antagonizes a host autophagy cargo receptor, Elife, Vol:5, ISSN:2050-084X

Maqbool A, Hughes RK, Dagdas YF, et al., 2016, Structural Basis of Host Autophagy-related Protein 8 (ATG8) Binding by the Irish Potato Famine Pathogen Effector Protein PexRD54, Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol:291, ISSN:0021-9258, Pages:20270-20282

Wu C-H, Belhaj K, Bozkurt TO, et al., 2016, Helper NLR proteins NRC2a/b and NRC3 but not NRC1 are required for Pto-mediated cell death and resistance in Nicotiana benthamiana, New Phytologist, Vol:209, ISSN:0028-646X, Pages:1344-1352

Bozkurt TO, Belhaj K, Dagdas YF, et al., 2015, Rerouting of Plant Late Endocytic Trafficking Toward a Pathogen Interface, Traffic, Vol:16, ISSN:1398-9219, Pages:204-226

Chaparro-Garcia A, Schwizer S, Sklenar J, et al., 2015, Phytophthora infestans RXLR-WY Effector AVR3a Associates with Dynamin-Related Protein 2 Required for Endocytosis of the Plant Pattern Recognition Receptor FLS2, Plos One, Vol:10, ISSN:1932-6203

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