Laboratory of Phytopathology

The laboratory of Phytopathology is part of the Department of Plants and Crops at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering of Ghent University. Professor Monica Höfte is the head of the laboratory since 1999. Research in the lab focusses on plant-pathogen interactions and non-chemical control strategies of plant diseases using cultural practices, basal and induced defense mechanisms and biocontrol.

The laboratory works on both temperate (vegetables, grapevine) and tropical crops (rice, cocoyam, banana) and has developed many different pathosystems in these crops. It has year-long expertise in the use of pseudomonads as biocontrol agents and has extensively studied their mode of action.

Research efforts have included understanding of the role of cyclic lipopeptides (CLiPs) in plant pathogenic Pseudomonas bacteria (PhD thesis of Ellen Pauwelyn), in Pseudomonas biocontrol agents (PhD theses of Jolien D’aes, Hoang Gia Khuong Hua and Zongwang Ma) and as indicators of soil suppressiveness and soil health in tropical countries (PhD thesis of Feyisara Eyiwumi Olorunleke).

In addition, the lab has worked for many years on the molecular mechanisms involved in basal and induced defense responses in plants against fungal and bacterial pathogens using rice as a model, including the induction of systemic resistance by elicitors, plant activators and beneficial rhizosphere bacteria. The lab has a large collection of CLP-producing Pseudomonas strains that will be used in this project. These strains are taxonomically well characterized and the CLPs they produce in vitro are fully characterized by NMR. In addition, the lab has substantial collections of fungal plant pathogens.