Transport-regulated immunity

To better understand the multi-layered immune responses plants mount against invading microbes, our research addresses transport-regulated immunity through the engagement of the secretory and endocytic trafficking pathways. Our research covers the spectrum of transport-regulated immunity in four major areas:


  1. Endocytic transport: What are the cargo and molecular determinants that control immune receptor localization and sorting? How does inhibition of endocytosis affect immune receptor responses?
  2. Secretory transport: What are the cargoes that are secreted upon immune stimulation? What are the mechanisms that regulate their trafficking? And how do these cargoes fight pathogens?
  3. Pathogen-targeted transport: What are the effectors by which pathogens modulate subcellular transport? How do they function?
  4. Transport-regulated stomatal immunity: What is the biomechanical basis of cell dynamics in closure/opening of stomata? And what are the molecular regulators and subcellular transport processes that translate immune signalling into a biomechanical response?

Prominent vesicle cargoes include plasma membrane-localized receptors that mediate the perception of microbe-associated molecular patterns and trigger immunity. Well-known examples include the FLAGELLIN SENSING 2 (FLS2) and EF-TU receptor kinases responsible for the recognition of bacterial flagellin (flg22) and EF-TU (elf18), respectively, and the Cf receptor-like proteins, which were initially identified as resistance (R) proteins conferring immunity against specific races of Cladosporium fulvum fungi.

We are applying a combination of live-cell imaging techniques, genetic, biochemical and molecular biological approaches to dissect the subcellular transport processes and their role in plant immunity. In particular, we develop methods that allow quantitative, high-throughput imaging to advance plant cell biology towards more unbiased, “omics”-type approaches, and as a result have generated a number of image analysis tools (

Identifying cargoes and the molecular switches involved in transport-regulated immunity will allow understanding how plants defend pathogens. Knowledge obtained from this study can be used as strategy in modern crop breeding such as facilitating the large-scale phenotyping.

All published materials are available on request.

These seeds are available in NASC:

N2105602 – Ws-0/FLS2p::FLS2-3myc-GFP (Robatzek et al. Genes Dev 2006)
N2105603 – Col-0/FLS2p::FLS2-3myc-GFP (Beck et al. Plant Cell 2012)
N2106713 aca8 (Frei dit Frey et al. Plant Physiol 2010)
N2106712aca10 (Frei dit Frey et al. Plant Physiol 2010)
N2105598 aca8 aca10 (Frei dit Frey et al. Plant Physiol 2010)
N2105599 – aca8 35S::ApoAeq (Frei dit Frey et al. Plant Physiol 2010)
N2105600 aca10 35S::ApoAeq (Frei dit Frey et al. Plant Physiol 2010)
N2105601 aca8 aca10 35S::ApoAeq (Frei dit Frey et al. Plant Physiol 2010)

You can find our published plasmids here:



Our research is supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation , the European Research Council (ERC), the German Research Council (DFG), the ERASMUS program, and Industry funds. Our research is also supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), as part of the Institute Strategic Programme on Biotic Interactions for Crop Productivity (BIO) in collaboration with the John Innes Centre.