About Nick Dunken and his project
Nick obtained his Master degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Cologne in 2020. During his studies he mainly focused on plant-microbe interaction, plant proteases and microbe-triggered cell death. Additionally to his research at the university, Nick worked as an intern at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research and at KAUST in Saudi Arabia. The main objective of his PhD is to understand the role of cell death in plant-microbe interactions. If you want to contact Nick, you can follow him under the handle @armadilloguy on Twitter.
Cell death regulation and function in plant-fungal symbiosis
The beneficial root endophyte Serendipita indica promotes growth, local and systemic resistance towards pathogens and stress tolerance in a variety of host plant species. After an initial biotrophic colonization of the root epidermis and cortex cells, S. indica triggers host cell death. During the cell-death associated phase, expression of the genes encoding for two functionally characterized effector proteins SiNucA and SiE5’NT peaks. SiNucA is a nuclease, capable of cleaving DNA and RNA, while SiE5’NT functions as a 5’-endonucleotidase, efficiently cleaving AMP to Ado as well as the DNA digestion product dAMP to dAdo with the release of phosphate (Nizam et al. 2019). During his PhD thesis, Nick aims to analyze the mechanisms of S. indica-triggered cell death, investigating the involvement of dAdo production and its general role in cell-death associated plant-microbe interaction.