Prof. Dr. Uwe Conrath



Uwe Conrath

Plant Physiology Department


+49 241 80-26540



Plant Biochemistry and Physiology, Phytopathology

Plants can be primed for more rapid and robust activation of defense to biotic and abiotic stress. Priming follows perception of molecular patterns of microbes or plants, recognition of pathogen-derived effectors, or colonization by beneficial microbes. However the process can also be induced by treatment with some natural or synthetic compounds (including some fungicides) and wounding. The primed mobilization of defense is often associated with acquiredimmunity and stress tolerance. Although the phenomenon has been known for decades, the molecular basis of priming is poorly understood. We unraveled molecular aspects of defense priming, that is the accumulation of dormant MAP kinases that are activated upon a challenging stress, histone modifications on defense gene promoters, and importance of transcription coactivator HsfB1 in priming. We also disclosed some blockbuster fungicides exerting their beneficial effects on plants through priming, and we set up screening systems for sustainable agrochemicals and beneficial, root-colonizing microbes.



  • Plant Biochemistryand Physiology (e.g. MAP kinase signaling, scaffold proteins, signaling)
  • Plant Molecular Biology (e.g. chromatin, histones, transcription regulation, gene expression)
  • Phytopathology (e.g. defense priming, induced immunity, nonhost resistance)
  • Translational Plant Pathology (Asian soybean rust disease, sustainable agrochemicals and beneficial microbes)


Experience and on-site performance of (phospho)proteome analysis, LC-MS/MS technologies, next-generation sequencing, and developing small molecules as inhibitors of histone mark writers, readers, and erasers. Modelsystems for studying defense priming in eukaryotes other than plants (e.g. mammals).



  1. Langenbach, C., Schultheiss, H., Tresch, N., Conrath, U., Goellner, K. (2014) Interspecies gene transfer provides crop resistance to a fungal pathogen. Under review.

  2. Hoehenwarter, W., Thomas, M., Nukarinen, E., Egelhofer, V., Röhrig, H., Weckwerth, W., Conrath, U., Beckers, G. J.M. (2013) Identification of novel in vivo MAP kinase substrates in Arabidopsis thaliana through use of tandem metal oxide affinity chromatography. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics 12: 369-380.

  3. Langenbach, C., Campe, R., Schaffrath, U., Goellner, K., Conrath, U. (2013) BRT1 is required for Arabidopsis nonhost resistance to the Asian soybean rust pathogen, Phakopsora pachyrhizi. New Phytologist 198: 536-545.

  4. Conrath, U. (2011) Molecular aspects of defense priming. Trends in Plant Science16: 524-531.

  5. Jaskiewicz, M., Conrath, U.,Peterhänsel, C. (2011) Chromatin modification acts as a memory for systemic acquired resistance in the plant stress response. EMBO reports 12: 50-55.

  6. Beckers, G.J.M., Jaskiewicz, M., Liu Y., Underwood, W. R., He, S.Y., Zhang, S., Conrath, U. (2009) Mitogen-activated protein kinases 3 and 6 are required for full priming of stress responses in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Cell 21: 944-953.

  7. Beckers, G.J.M, Conrath, U. (2007) Priming for stress resistance: from the lab to the field. Current Opinion in Plant Biology 10: 425-431.

  8. Conrath et al.(2006) Priming: Getting ready for battle. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 19: 1062-1071.

  9. Conrath, U., Chen, Z., Ricigliano, J., Klessig, D.F. (1995) Two inducers of plant defense responses, 2,6-dichloroisonicotinic acid and salicylic acid, inhibit catalase activity in tobacco. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 92: 7143-7147.