PD Dr. Ulrich Schaffrath



Ulrich Schaffrath

Plant Physiology Department


+49 241 80 20100



Cell Biology, Crop Plants, Plant Resistance, Rice Blast, Asian Soybean Rust

While plants are susceptible against a limited range of adapted pathogens they display at the same time durable resistance against a plethora of nonadapted pathogens. This phenomenon is known as nonhost resistance which, despite its broad effectiveness, is poorly understood. Generally, nonhost resistance could be either interpreted as an effective arsenal of appropriate defense genes on the plant side or as a lack of suitable weapons on the side of potential pathogens. Aiming at closing the gap of knowledge at the molecular level, we worked for several years at both ends using modern molecular and life-cell imaging techniques. Most recently we identified components of the plants cuticular wax layer as being crucial for pathogens to establish disease. Moreover, we work on plant proteins possibly being involved in producing antimicrobial substances. As a complementary approach we have identified a large number of secreted fungal proteins which have the capacity to modify host responses and sabotage plant resistance pathways.



Phytopathology: plant resistance genes; nonhost resistance in rice, wheat, barley and soybean; fungal effector biology, innate immunity
Plant Molecular Biology: gene (transgene-) expression; gene silencing; plant surface analysis



LC-MS/MS proteomics, next-generation sequencing including bioinformatics, libraries with small molecules capable of interfering with plant/fungal infection processes, high-throughput life-imaging platform.



  1. Weidenbach D, Jansen M, Franke RB, Hensel G, and U. Schaffrath (2014). Evolutionary Conserved Function of Barley and Arabidopsis 3-KETOACYL-CoA SYNTHASES in Providing Wax Signals for Germination of Powdery Mildew Fungi. Plant Physiol. 166:1624-1633.
  2. Loehrer M, Vogel A, Duplessis S, Usadel B and U Schaffrath (2014). On the current status of Phakopsora pachyrhizi genome sequencing. Front. Plant Sci. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00377
  3. Loehrer M, Botterweck J, Oldiges M, Horbach R, Deising H and U. Schaffrath. (2014.) In vivo assessment by Mach-Zehnder double-beam interferometry of the invasive force exerted by the Asian soybean rust fungus (Phakopsora pachyrhizi). New Phytologist 203: 620-31.
  4. Delventhal R, Falter C, Strugala R, Zellerhoff N and U Schaffrath (2014). Ectoparasitic growth of Magnaporthe on barley triggers expression of the putative barley wax biosynthesis gene CYP96B22 which is involved in penetration resistance. BMC Plant Biology 14: 26.
  5. Wunderle J, Leclerque A, Schaffrath U, Slusarenko A and E Koch. (2012). Assessment of the loose smut fungi (Ustilago nuda and U. tritici) in tissues of barley and wheat by fluorescence microscopy and real-time PCR. Eur. J Plant Pathol. 133 (4): 865-875.
  6. Zellerhoff N, Himmelbach A, Dong W, Bieri S, Schaffrath U and P Schweizer (2010). Nonhost resistance of barley to different fungal pathogens is associated with largely distinct, quantitative transcriptional responses. Plant Phys, 152 (4): 2053-2066.
  7. Faivre-Rampant O, Tharreau D, Nottéghem J-L, Lebrun M-H, Schaffrath U and P Piffanelli (2008). Characterisation of the model system rice-Magnaporthe for the study of plant innate immunity in cereals. New Phytologist, 180: 899-910.
  8. Loehrer M, Langenbach C, Goellner K, Conrath U and U Schaffrath (2008). Elucidating the infection mechanism of Asian soybean rust in Arabidopsis. Mol Plant Microbe Interact, 21: 1421-1430.