Plant Signaling

As multicellular organisms, plants constantly perceive their environment and respond appropriately, which is required for their survival, as well as the coordination of their growth and development. In particular, we are focusing on cell surface-localised immune receptors, called pattern recognition receptors, that perceive microbe-derived or endogenous patterns to activate innate immune responses.

Plant pattern recognition receptors are receptor kinases or are part of receptor kinase complexes, and thus offer exquisite model systems to study the molecular basis of plant immunity, but also the mechanisms underlying the function, activation and regulation receptor kinase-mediated pathways in growth, development and responses to environmental stresses. In addition, we are interested in identifying and engineering immune receptors to improve disease resistance in crops. 

  • Plant innate immunity
  • Plant receptor kinases
  • Phosphorylation-based regulation of plant signaling
  • Plasma membrane organization
  • Cell wall integrity sensing  
  • Plant biotechnology 


  • A phosphoinositide hub connects CLE peptide signaling and polar auxin efflux regulation
    Nature Communications, 2023-01-26 | DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-36200-0
    Contributors: Qian Wang; A. Cecilia Aliaga Fandino; Moritz Graeff; Thomas A. DeFalco; Cyril Zipfel; Christian S. Hardtke
  • The Arabidopsis pattern recognition receptor EFR enhances fire blight resistance in apple
    Piazza, Stefano; Campa, Manuela; Pompili, Valerio; Dalla Costa, Lorenza; Salvagnin, Umberta; et al.
    Horticulture Research 10.1038/s41438-021-00639-3  DEC 2021
  • Molecular mechanisms of early plant pattern-triggered immune signaling (vol 81, pg 3449, 2021)
    DeFalco, Thomas A.; Zipfel, Cyril
    Molecular Cell 10.1016/j.molcel.2021.09.028 OCT 21 2021
  • Family-wide evaluation of RAPID ALKALINIZATION FACTOR peptides
    Abarca, Alicia; Franck, Christina M.; Zipfel, Cyril
    Plant Physiology 10.1093/plphys/kiab308  OCT 2021
  • Review Molecular mechanisms of early plant pattern-triggered immune signaling
    DeFalco, Thomas A.; Zipfel, Cyril
    Molecular Cell 10.1016/j.molcel.2021.07.029  SEP 2 2021
  • Bacterial rhamnolipids and their 3-hydroxyalkanoate precursors activate Arabidopsis innate immunity two independent mechanisms
    Schellenberger, Romain; Crouzet, Jerome; Nickzad, Arvin; Shu, Lin-Jie; Kutschera, Alexander; et al.
    Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America 10.1073/pnas.2101366118  SEP 28 2021
  • Activation loop phosphorylaton of a non-RD receptor kinase initiates plant innate immune signaling
    Bender, Kyle W.; Couto, Daniel; Kadota, Yasuhiro; Macho, Alberto P.; Sklenar, Jan; et al.
    Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America10.1073/pnas.2108242118  SEP 21 2021
  • Importance of tyrosine phosphorylation for transmembrane signaling in plants
    Muehlenbeck, Henning; Bender, Kyle W.; Zipfel, Cyril
    Biochemical Journal 10.1042/BCJ20210202  JUL 2021
  • Perception of a divergent family of phytocytokines by the Arabidopsis receptor kinase MIK2
    Rhodes, Jack; Yang, Huanjie; Moussu, Steven; Boutrot, Freddy; Santiago, Julia; Zipfel, Cyril
    Nature Communications 10.1038/s41467-021-20932-y  JAN 29 2021
  • An evergreen mind and a heart for the colors of fall
    Sylvain Aubry, Bastien Christ, Bernhard Kräutler, Enrico Martinoia, Howard Thomas, Cyril Zipfel
    Journal of Experimental Botany,
  • The Arabidopsis immune receptor EFR increases resistance to the bacterial pathogens Xanthomonas and Xylella in transgenic sweet orange
    Mitre, Leticia Kuster; Teixeira-Silva, Natalia Sousa; Rybak, Katarzyna; Magalhaes, Diogo Maciel; de Souza-Neto, Reinaldo Rodrigues; et al.
    Plant Biotechnology Journal 10.1111/pbi.13629  JUL 2021
  • Large-scale identification of ubiquitination sites on membrane-associated proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana seedlings
    Grubb, Lauren E.; Derbyshire, Paul; Dunning, Katherine E.; Zipfel, Cyril; Menke, Frank L. H.; et al.
    Plant Physiology 10.1093/plphys/kiab023  APR 2021
  • A novel allele of the Arabidopsis thaliana MACPF protein CAD1 results in deregulated immune signaling
    Holmes, Danalyn R.; Bredow, Melissa; Thor, Kathrin; Pascetta, Sydney A.; Sementchoukova, Irina; et al.
    Genetics 10.1093/genetics/iyab022  APR 2021
  • Wheat Pm4 resistance to powdery mildew is controlled by alternative splice variants encoding chimeric proteins
    Sanchez-Martin, Javier; Widrig, Victoria; Herren, Gerhard; Wicker, Thomas; Zbinden, Helen; Gronnier, Julien; Sporri, Laurin; Praz, Coraline R; Heuberger, Matthias; Kolodziej, Markus C.; Isaksson, Jonatan; Steuernagel, Burkhard; Karafiatova, Miroslava; Dolezel, Jaroslav; Zipfel, Cyril; Keller, Beat
    Nature Plants,  10.1038/s41477-021-00869-2 MAR 2021
  • The transcriptional landscape of Arabidopsis thaliana pattern-triggered immunity
    Bjornson, Marta; Pimprikar, Priya; Nuernberger, Thorsten; Zipfel, Cyril
    Nature Plants   DOI: 10.1038/s41477-021-00874-5  MAR 2021
  • A membrane-bound ankyrin repeat protein confers race-specific leaf rust disease resistance in wheat
    Kolodziej, Markus C.; Singla, Jyoti; Sanchez-Martin, Javier; Zbinden, Helen; Simkova, Hana; Karafiatova, Miroslava; Dolezel, Jaroslav; Gronnier, Julien; Poretti, Manuel; Glauser, Gaetan; Zhu, Wangsheng; Koster, Philipp; Zipfel, Cyril; Wicker, Thomas; Krattinger, Simon; Keller, Beat
    Nature Communications,  DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-20777-x FEB 11 2021

Prof. Dr. Cyril Zipfel
University of Zurich
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
8008 Zurich

Tel: +41 44 63 48222

  • Protein-protein interactions
  • Protein phosphorylation analysis
  • Plant-bacteria interactions
  • Bioimaging
  • Signaling bioassays in immunity, growth and development
  • Electrophysiology