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About Pia Saake and her project

Pia Saake obtained her Bachelor degree from the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. This included 2 semesters studying abroad at Michigan State University. During her thesis she worked on inducible promoter systems in Cyanobacteria (Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803) (Behle et al., 2020). In October 2019, she joined the CEPLAS Graduate School and in October 2020 started her PhD.

The main objective of her PhD is to analyse how lipids from the beneficial root endophytic fungus Serendipita indica (S. indica) are perceived as microbe associated patterns (MAMPs) by plant hosts and how this affects the mutualistic interaction.

Different lipids from pathogenic microbes have been reported to act as MAMPs and their respective receptors have been identified. For example, ergosterol, a sterol lipid, present in membranes of oomycetes and fungi but absent from plant membranes acts as a MAMP. However, the perception mechanism and the downstream signaling components remain largely unknown. Whether lipids from the beneficial Sebacinales also function as MAMPs has not been previously investigated. Here, we want to find out whether lipids isolated from S. indica mycelium induce PTI (ROS accumulation, MAPK phosphorylation and expression of immunity-related genes) in barley and how this affects colonization and the mutualistic interaction. Currently, we are using transcriptomic and phosphoproteomic analyses of lipid-treated barley roots to identify potential ergosterol receptor candidates and other proteins involved in downstream signaling.