Center for Plant Molecular Biology

Microbial Interactions in Plant Ecosystems


Eric Kemen

Email: eric.kemenspam

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-7924-116X

Eric did his PhD in cell biology and phytopathology at the University of Konstanz where he discovered the first fungal effector protein delivered into host plants. Joining the group of Jonathan Jones at the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK, he established sequencing and computational techniques to analyze fungal and oomycete genomes. In 2012, Eric became a research group leader at the MPI for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne, focusing with his group on microbe-microbe and plant-microbe interactions. An important finding was the discovery of ‘microbial hubs’ that link microbial communities to the host genotype. Since 2017, Eric is Professor at the University of Tübingen combining computational modelling with ecology and host/microbe genetics to discover novel mechanisms in complex microbial community assembly and stability.

Marion Jackson


eMail: marion.jacksonspam

Juliana Almario


Email: juliana.almariospam

Juliana comes from Colombia and did her studies in Lyon (France) where she completed her PhD on microbial ecology. Juliana is fascinated by the plant microbiome and her research is driven by fundamental questions like: how much does the plant microbiome affect fitness-relevant plant traits like nutrient acquisition and health? What are the main microbial taxa behind these effects? By which functions are they acting and how are these functions regulated? Her work has mostly focused on root-associated microbial communities involved in plant disease-suppression (during her PhD) and in plant P-uptake facilitation (during her first post-doc at the University of Cologne). After a research stay at the MPI for Plant Breeding Research, she moved to the University of Tübingen. She is now studying microbial networks in A. thaliana phyllosphere and their dynamics in space and in time.

Vasvi Chaudhry

Humboldt Research Fellow (PostDoc)

Email: vasvi.chaudhryspam


Daniel Gomez

PhD student


Daniel comes from Spain. He completed his Pharmacy studies in Santiago de Compostela and followed with a Master’s Degree in Kiel University. In 2018, he joined our group in Tübingen in pursuit of a PhD. His research interests center on the molecular understanding of microbial interactions in plant leaves.

Ariane Kemen


Email: ariane.kemenspam

Arianes research centers on mechanisms used by microbes for inter- or cross-kingdom communication. After completing her PhD studies where she had unrevealed the function of amyloid-like effector proteins in rust fungi, Ariane investigated the host-microbe dialogue focusing on effector-receptor proteins and metabolites, both conferring broad spectrum disease resistances. Her postdoctoral stays at JIC, TSL and MPIPZ enabled here both to follow her topics of interest and to establish new methods for deeper insights into interkingdom communication. In her current projects, Ariane is studying the impact of host genes on the composition of the phyllosphere microbiota with the aim to understand the role of amyloid proteins in the modulation of host-microbe and inter-microbial dialogue.

Elke Klenk

Research assistance

Email: elke.klenkspam

Katrina Lutap

PhD student



Maryam Mahmoudi

PhD student


Alfredo Mari



Alfredo completed his studies in Industrial Biotechnology at University of Pisa/Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy, with a molecular biology master thesis achieved at University of Turin. He did his PhD at the MPI for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ) from 2014 to 2018 where he was interested in the leaf eukaryotic microbiome, and its interaction with plant pathogens in Arabidopsis thaliana. He recently joined the group in Tübingen where he will focus on computational methods to improve microbiome analyses and network comparison.

Paul Runge

PhD student

Email: rungespam

Paul studied plant biotechnology at the Leibniz University of Hannover and did his master thesis in Jane Parker`s lab. He started his PhD in the beginning of 2017 as a joined project between the group of Jane Parker at the MPIPZ and the Kemen group. His research focuses on the effect of local adaptations on the microbiota structure in the Arabidopsis phyllosphere. To do so, he performs high-throughput sequencing as well as reconstitution biology approaches.

Former Lab Members

Matthew Agler

Researcher in the group at the MPIPZ from 2012 to 2016

Now junior group leader at the Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany

The Plant Microbiosis Lab


Samuel Kroll

PhD student and researcher in the group at the MPIPZ from 2014 to 2018.

Now Genomics Application Specialist at QIAGEN.


Jonas Ruhe

PhD student and researcher in the group at the MPIPZ from 2012 to 2017.

Now Senior Scientist - Life Science Scouting at Yara International.