Evolutionary biology of plant pathogens

Plant Pathology

Research in the Plant Pathology group centers around population genetics and phylogeography of the fungal pathogens Mycosphaerella graminicola and Phaeosphaeria nodorum, which cause diseases of wheat and Rhynchosporium secalis, which causes disease on barley. We use molecular data to answer such central questions in pathogen research like; Where is the origin of the pathogen? What are the evolutionary mechanisms of resistance development? or What are the co-evolutionary forces in the plant-pathosystem acting on a particular gene?

My current research focus is on plant cell wall degrading enzymes (PCWDEs) of plant pathogens. PCWDEs are receiving increasing interest as a group of rapidly coevolving genes. Current projects focus on the roles that fungal PCWDEs play in host specialization, as virulence factors, and as elicitors of plant defense responses in the coevolution with the host plant. Using a combination of gene expression studies, virulence assays and population genetic approaches will allow us to place the respective roles played by the different members of each multigene family into a broader evolutionary context.


Recent Publications

  • Low Amplitude Boom-and-Bust Cycles Define the Septoria Nodorum Blotch Interaction
    Phan, Huyen T. T.; Jones, Darcy A. B.; Rybak, Kasia; Dodhia, Kejal N.; Lopez-Ruiz, Francisco J.; et al.
    Frontiers In Plant Science 10, Article Number: 1785 DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01785  JAN 31 2020
  • Evolutionary analyses of the avirulence effector AvrStb6 in global populations of Zymoseptoria tritici identify candidate amino acids involved in recognition
    Patrick C. Brunner; Bruce A. McDonald
    Molecular Plant Pathology  https://doi.org/10.1111/mpp.12662AUG 2018
  • A fungal avirulence factor encoded in a highly plastic genomic region triggers partial resistance to septoria tritici blotch
    Meile L; Croll D; Brunner PC;  Plissonneau C; Hartmann FE; McDonald BA; Sanchez-Vallet A
    NEW PHYTOLOGIST   Volume: 219   Issue: 3   Special Issue: SI   Pages: 1048-1061 10.1111/nph.15180   AUG 2018
  • Widespread signatures of selection for secreted peptidases in a fungal plant pathogen 
    Krishnan, Parvathy; Ma, Xin; McDonald, Bruce A.; Brunner PC;
    BMC EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY, 18:  10.1186/s12862-018-1123-3  JAN 24 2018
  • Mutations in the CYP51 gene reduce DMI sensitivity in Parastagonospora nodorum populations in Europe and China 
    Pereira, Danilo A. S.; McDonald, Bruce A.; Brunner, Patrick C. 
    PEST MANAGEMENT SCIENCE, 73 (7): 1503-1510  10.1002/ps.4486  JUL 2017
  • Pyricularia graminis-tritici, a new Pyricularia species causing wheat blast 
    Castroagudin, V. L.; Moreira, S. I.; Pereira, D. A. S.; et al. 
    PERSOONIA, 37: 199-216 DEC 2016 Article (Details)
  • A Global Analysis of CYP51 Diversity and Azole Sensitivity in Rhynchosporium commune 
    Brunner, Patrick C.; Stefansson, Tryggvi S.; Fountaine, James; et al. 
    PHYTOPATHOLOGY, 106 (4): 355-361 APR 2016 Article (Details)
  • Emergence and early evolution of fungicide resistance in North American populations of Zymoseptoria tritici 
    Estep, L. K.; Torriani, S. F. F.; Zala, M.; et al. 
    PLANT PATHOLOGY, 64 (4): 961-971 AUG 2015 Article (Details)
Brunner Patrick

Dr. Patrick Brunner
ETH Zurich
Institute of Integrative Biology
8092 Zurich

Tel: +41 (0)44 632 38 68

Research topics

  • Phylogenetics and population genetics
  • Origin and distribution of plant pathogens
  • Evolutionary biology of plant pathogens