Center for Plant Molecular Biology

Microbial Interactions in Plant Ecosystems

Prof. Dr. Eric Kemen

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.

Administrative Office

Angela Gürtel, Email: angela.guertelspam

Members of the research group

Vasvi Chaudhry

Humboldt Research Fellow (PostDoc)

Email: vasvi.chaudhryspam


Vasvi earned her PhD in Biochemistry from CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute and University of Lucknow (India). During her PhD she worked on Molecular characterization of Plant Growth Promoting and phosphate accumulating bacteria with focus on Pseudomonas putida species and its potential role in plant growth promotion and bioremediation. This was followed by her first postdoc in CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (India), where she worked on Microbial comparative genomics and metagenomics of beneficial bacteria associated to Rice. Her broad interests are in analysis of microbial community structure and study their possible interactions using computational as well as experimental approaches. In lab since November 2018, she is working in deciphering complex microbial interactions in Arabidopsis thaliana phyllosphere associated microbiota using culture-dependent and culture-independent approaches, microbial networks and reconstitution experiments using microbial synthetic community in gnotobiotic system. Her interest also lies in studying the source of phyllosphere microbiota.

Daniel Gomez

PhD student

Email: daniel.gomez-perezspam

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.

Yiheng Hu

PhD student

Email: yiheng.huspam

Yiheng joint our group in March 2021, and his research centers on the dynamics and stability of the plant microbiome using Arabidopsis thaliana as a model. Before that, Yiheng completed his Bachelor degree at Xiamen University, China and a Master degree from the Australian National University, Australia. Yiheng is completing his PhD at the Australian National University with Dr. Benjamin Schwessinger and Prof. John Rathjen. His PhD thesis focuses on pathogen detection and microbial community compositions during fungal infections.

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


Vladislav Mokeev

PhD Student


Vlad comes from Russia; his hometown is Samara. He completed his bachelor in biology followed by a master in microbiology at the University of Tübingen. Vlad started his PhD in August of 2019 as an interdisciplinary project between the research groups of Heike Brötz-Oesterhelt, Eric Kemen and Nadine Ziemert. He is interested in leaf microbiota of Arabidopsis thaliana and analysing the impact of microbial hub species, their secondary metabolites and protein-based mediators on shaping the microbiome.

Monja Schmid

PhD student

Email: monja.schmidspam

Paul Runge

PhD student

Email: paul.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.