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Karlsruhe Institute of Technology - KIT
Botanical Institute
Molecular Phytopathology


Fritz Haber-Weg 4

Geb. 30.43, 2. OG

D-76131 Karlsruhe


Phone:  +49 721 608-44626

Secret.: +49 721 608-44632

Fax:      +49 721 608-44509



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Prof. Dr. Natalia Requena

Group Leader
Room: 205
Phone: +49 721 608-44626
Fax: +49 721 608-44509
natalia requenaRqm3∂kit edu

Curriculum Vitae

Prof. Dr. Natalia Requena
Biology, University of Granada, 1990
Tesina de Licenciatura (Microbiology), University of Granada, 1992
Ph.D. (Dr. rer. nat.) (Plant Biology), Estacion Experimental del Zaidin (CSIC), University of Granada, 1996
Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, Marburg, 1997-2000
Group leader at the Department of Physiological Ecology of Plants, University of Tuebingen, 2000-2005
Wrangell Fellow of the State Baden Württemberg, 2001-2005
Habilitation (Botany and Microbiology ), University of Tuebingen, 2005
DFG Heisenbergfellow at the University of Karlsruhe, since 07/2005

DFG Heisenbergprofessur at the University of Karlsruhe, since 10/2008

W3 Professor for Molecular Phytopathology at KIT since 07/2012

Funding: DFG, Leibnitz Gemeinschaft

Editorial Board: New Phytologist

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Botanical Institute
Molecular Phytopathology Dept.

Hertzstrasse 16, Geb. 06.40
D-76187 Karlsruhe

Phone: +49-721-608-44626
Secret.: +49-721-608-44632
Fax: +49-721-608-44509
e-mail: natalia.requena∂kit.edu

Members of the Research Group
Secretary: Tamara Bürger, Fabienne Cochard-Rein

Technical Assistant: Stephanie Heupel

2016 Ph.D. students:  Carolin Heck, Jasmin Götzenberger, Ruben Betz, Stefanie Walter, Sven Heidt, Meike Hartmann

2016 Master students: Lisa Marie Rapp, Jana Schmoll

2016 Bachelor students: Laurent Baulesch, Madeleine Mirzai, Rebecca Wetzel, Sarah Fach, Kai Richler, Thomas Braun


Former Members of the Research Group

Dr. Cristina Albarran

Dr. Lene Breuninger

Dr. Mike Güther

Dr. Nicole Helber

Dr. Stefanie Hirsch (Geb. Rech)

Dr. Raphael Kist

Dr. Regine Kleber

Dr. Silke Kloppholz

Dr. Hannah Kuhn

Dr. Aurora Ocon

Dr. Nina Rieger

Dr. Esther Serrano 

Graduate students: Christina Müller, Stephanie Martin, Ralf Maier, Meike Dittmann, Melanie Krebs, Thorsten Klug, Marlene Rodrigues, Nicole Bühler, Chris Vogt, Yvonne Kosse, Simon Fitterer, Nazli Dursum, Jenny Hübner

Research Area: Molecular and Cell Biology of Arbuscular Mycorrhiza

Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are soil inhabitants that live in permanent symbiosis with plant roots. They colonize the vast majority of terrestrial plants and are present in all ecosystems. Plants benefit enormously from the association with mycorrhizal fungi because they are provided with nutrients that are scarce or immobile in the soil solution. In this mutualistic symbiosis the fungus also profits from the association with a "green" partner through the provision of carbohydrates downloaded at specialized haustoria, the so-called arbuscules. Much is known about physiology, ecology and agronimical applications of this mycorrhizal symbiosis. However, the precise mechanisms by which plant and fungus recognize each other in the soil, by which they interact with other soil inhabitants, or which nutrients are exchanged in an organized manner - thus preventing a parasitic situation - are still not fully understood. In the last 15 years, major advances have been possible in this research area with the use of molecular biology and genetic approaches. 

In our group we are interested in unraveling how AM fungi are perceived by their host plants and discriminated from pathogenic fungi. To investigate these aspects we are using several complementary approaches. On the one hand, we use plant genes induced during early mycorrhization as reporters of fungal presence and activity. By fusing their promoters to fluorescence marker genes like GFP or DsRed and expressing them in planta we can follow the course of the interaction in vivo (see our movie from Kuhn et al., 2010). On the other hand we investigate the secretion of fungal effectors produced by AM fungi that are able to turn on the reporter genes and/or to travel to the plant cell to induce the symbiotic program (see Kloppholz et al., 2011). We recently showed, that secreted signals from the fungus are able to rewire the developmental program of the plant to allow arbuscule formation within roots (see Heck et al., 2016). In addition, we compare the mechanisms of root colonization between mutualistic symbiotic fungi and pathogenic fungi. For instance we use the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae which besides its well known leaf infection route is also able to colonize the root of rice plants (see Heupel et al., 2010).

We would like to know too which nutrients and at which interfaces are exchanged in this symbiosis. We identified a characterized the first bonafide AM fungal monosaccharide transporter that takes up sugars from the root (see Helber et al., 2011) and showed that the extraradical mycelium is, in contrast to what it was believed, able to take up hexoses. Recently we have also shown that AM fungal colonization significantly alters the root expression and localization of the novel sugar exporters/importers SWEETs, suggesting that they might be partly responsible for the carbohydrate supply to AM fungi (see Manck-Götzenberger and Requena, 2016). 

Publications (complete list)