unizeit | life sciences | agriculture & nutrition
unizeit Schriftzug

Expertonthefungalkingdom

ProfessorEvaStukenbrockexplorestheinteractionsoffungiandtheirhostorganisms,especiallywithregardtothedevelopmentofdiseases.Withthisexpertise,shewasrecentlywelcomedasafellowoftheinternationalresearchinstituteCIFAR.

Wheat leaf infested with a fungus
Dr.JanineHaueisen

Awheatleafinfestedwiththefungus'Zymoseptoriatritici'showsthetypicalsignsofso-calledleafdrought,whichcanleadtodrasticcropfailures.

TheCanadianInstituteforAdvancedResearch(CIFAR)inTorontoisoneoftheleadinginternationalresearchorganisations,andranksasoneofthemostimportantthinktanksworld-wide.Itbringstogetherleadinginternationalscientistsfromvariousdisciplines,whojointlydevelopsolutionsforglobalproblemsinhealth,technologyandtheenvironment.

Since2019,EvaStukenbrock,ProfessorofEnvironmentalGenomicsatKielUniversityandfellowoftheMaxPlanckInstituteforEvolutionaryBiologyinPln,hasalsobeenpartofthisprestigiouscommunityofresearchers.InthenewCIFARresearchprogramme"TheFungalKingdom:Threats&Opportunities",shewillexplorethemultiplefacetsoffungalbiologyfromdifferentperspectives,togetherwithinternationalexperts,todevelopnovelstrategiesformanagingtheirrisksandutilisingtheirpotential.

Byawardingthefellowship,theCanadianinstituterecognisesEvaStukenbrocksoutstandingworkontherelationshipsbetweenplantsandmicroorganisms,theirunderlyingevolutionarygenomics,andfutureapplicationsinsustainableplantprotection.Akeyfocusareaofherresearchisonspecificfungi,whichaspestsposeasignificantthreattowheatfarming,andwhichshehasdevelopedmeasurestocombat,basedonevolutionarymechanisms.WithStukenbrocksnomination,CIFARunderlinestheimportanceofherresearch.

Portrait Eva Stukenbrock
StefanKolbe,UniKiel

CIFARmembersince2019:EvaStukenbrock,ProfessorofEnvironmentalGenomicsattheuniversityandfellowoftheMaxPlanckInstituteforEvolutionaryBiologyinPln.

Togetherwithanimalsandplants,thefungalkingdomformsthethirddomainoflifeonearth.Itcomprisesaroundsixmillionspecies,fromediblespecimensrightthroughtoproblematic,pathogenicfungi,whichaffecthealth,foodsecurityandtheenvironmentingeneralincomplexways.Inparticular,thepotentialdangersposedbyfungi,whichcanleadforexampletoepidemicsordramaticcroplosses,areasyetnotsafelymanageable.Atthesametime,fungiarethesourceofmanyusefulsubstances,andprovidethebasisofantibioticagents,orindispensableingredientsforfood.

"Thefellowshipisaspecialrecognitionofmywork,forwhichIamverygrateful,"saidStukenbrockregardinghernomination."CIFARtherebygivesmetheopportunitytoalsocontinueourtransdisciplinaryresearchintoplantpestsonaninternationallevel.Thisadditionalimpulsewillhelpusinfuture-inKielandintheinternationalnetwork-todevelopsolutionstobenefitplanthealthandfoodsecurity,"continuedStukenbrock.

Oneofthechallengesisthebigneedforsustainableplantprotectionstrategies.Manypests,includingnumerousfungi,arebecomingresistanttoplantprotectionproductseverfaster.Togetherwithhercolleaguesatthe"KielPlantCenter"atKielUniversity,thescientistexploresnewprotectionconcepts,derivedfromfindingsonthemutualevolutionaryadaptationofpestandplant.

Toboostresearchintothediverseandcomplexpotentialoffungi,CIFARofficiallylaunchedthenewtransdisciplinaryresearchprogrammein2019.Thenewly-established"FungalKingdom"workinggroupmetforthefirsttimeinTorontoinNovember2018,inordertodiscusstheresearchprogrammeforthecomingyears.Acentralquestionisthewaysinwhichfungidevelopresistancetovarioustreatmentstrategies,andhowthesemaypossiblybecircumvented.Inthisregard,Stukenbrock'sworkonthegeneticmechanismsofmutualevolutionaryadaptationoffungiandwheatplantsopensupnewperspectivesforsustainableplantprotection.

Themutualadaptationsoforganismsandharmfulfungi,andtheassociatedevolutionofresistance,forexampletopesticides,isgenerallybetterresearchedinplantsthaninhumansoranimals,intermsofthegeneticandmolecularcauses.TheCIFARresearchgroupthereforehopesthatthefindingsonplantpestscanalsobeusedtodrawconclusionsonthemechanismsofhumanandanimalfungaldiseases.Withthisinmind,infuturetheroleofthefungiaspartofthehumanmicrobiome,andtheirpossibleinvolvementinpathogenesis,shouldalsobeinvestigated,whichhavepreviouslyreceivedlittlescientificattention.

Author:ChristianUrban

Furtherinformation

CIFAR-FellowProf.EvaH.Stukenbrock:
www.cifar.ca/bio/eva-h.-stukenbrock

ResearchProgramFungalKingdom:Threats&Opportunities,CIFAR:
www.cifar.ca/research/program/fungal-kingdom

CIFARthinktank

Sinceitsfoundingin1982,thetaskoftheCanadianInstituteforAdvancedResearch(CIFAR)istobuildinterdisciplinaryresearchteamswiththeparticipationofleadingscientistsfromallovertheworld,totacklescientifictopicswithspecialrelevancetosociety.Theinstitutesprestigiouscommunityoffellowscurrentlyincludes19Nobellaureatesandmorethan400researchersfrom23countries.Theyworkon13interdisciplinaryresearchprojects,tackling-forexample-lifescience,socialortechnicalchallenges.Forthispurpose,theCIFARresearchteamhasatotalannualbudgetequivalenttoaround28million.(cu)