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About Nyasha Charura and her project

Nyasha obtained her Master’s degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Cologne in 2020. During her studies she participated in the ERASMUS program at the University of Manchester, with a focus on green biotechnology and worked as an intern at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research. Before starting her PhD, she obtained a short-term qualification PhD fellowship from the SFB1403 "Cell Death in Immunity, Inflammation and Disease".

In the context of plant-microbe interactions Nyasha's projects can be divided into two main branches, focusing on the beneficial root endophyte Serendipita indica. The first branch addresses the role of plant developmental programmed cell death (dPCD) in microbial colonization and how microbes can manipulate dPCD processes in plant hosts to facilitate fungal accommodation. The second branch investigates different types of potential S. indica effector proteins, amongst them effector proteins containing intrinsically unstable prion regions and their effect on plant-microbe interactions. In particular, Nyasha is interested in the S. indica-specific “DELD” protein family and their potential antimicrobial properties. The DELD family consists of 30 genes, encoding small secreted proteins with a conserved histidine rich core and a conserved C-terminal RSIDELD motif. The DELDs experience upregulation in S. indica during interaction with different plant hosts, as well as in direct fungal-fungal interaction with the plant pathogen Bipolaris sorokiniana, suggesting potential dual functions of this protein family.