Plants in nature are in constant contact with microbes, including pathogens, symbionts and commensal microbes. These microbial contacts could greatly influence important plant traits such as growth and disease resistance.
Our group studies plant-microbe interactions, and is particularly interested in the following two areas:
1. Plant-pathogen-environment interactions; the famous “Disease Triangle” dogma in plant pathology describes that plant diseases require susceptible plant hosts, virulent pathogens as well as right environmental conditions such as temperature and humidity. Our work investigates bacterial pathogenesis, interplay between host immunity and pathogen virulence and the molecular basis of environmental regulation of plant diseases. Research in this area is carried out with the model system Arabidopsis thaliana-Pseudomonas syringae as well as the important crop species rice.
2. Plant-microbiome interactions; increasing evidence shows that the diverse population of microbial community that naturally exist on the surface and/or inside of plants (i.e. microbiome) exert important regulatory roles to plant growth, development and responses to abiotic and biotic stimuli. We aim to uncover the mechanisms of plants maintaining the leaf microbiome homeostasis and how dynamics of the leaf microbiome relates to basic plant health.