Department of Pathogen Genetics and Plant Resistance

Prof. dr hab. Łukasz Stępień
phone: (+48) 61 65 50 286
The Department of Pathogen Genetics and Plant Resistance is composed of three research teams: Molecular Plant Pathology, Plant-Microorganism Interaction and Metabolomics. Moreover, the staff of the Department are also the members of the Functional Evolution of Biological Systems Team.
At present the research concerns the following plant-pathogen (disease) interactions: (i) oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) - Leptosphaeria maculans, L. biglobosa (stem canker of brassicas), Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (sclerotinia stem rot) and Alternaria spp. (black spot); (ii) peas (Pisum sativum) - seed-borne pathogens; (iii) various lupin species (Lupinus luteus, L. angustifolius, L. albus, L. mutabilis) - Glomerella cingulata/Colletotrichum lupini (anthracnose) and Diaporthe toxica (phomopsis stem blight); (iv) common wheat (Triticum aestivum) - genus Fusarium (Fusarium head blight); (v) winter barley (Hordeum vulgare) - Ramularia collo-cygni (ramulariose); (vi) common osier willow (Salix viminalis) - Melampsora larici-epitea (rust).
Beside phytopathogenic fungi, the studies concern also the genetic resistance of oilseed rape mutants and interspecific hybrids within the genus Brassica to clubroot caused by the protist Plasmodiophora brassicae and the hyperparasitic fungi belonging to Trichoderma and Clonostachys.
Our research aims at the identification and mapping of resistance genes in plants using different methods, including plant pathology, genetics, cytogenetics (FISH/GISH) and molecular biology (PCR, Real-Time PCR, PFGE). Our interest is also focused on the role of small molecule bioactive secondary metabolites in the interaction between plants and phytopathogenic fungi and the role of secondary metabolites in plant resistance. The identification of unknown metabolites and the attempts to elucidate their role in response to environmental stresses is done using the techniques of ultraperformance liquid chromatography (UPLC) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with mass spectrometry (MS).
Pathogens are detected in host-plant tissues as well as in the air. Our experience in molecular aerobiology enabled us create and implement in agricultural practice the biggest decision suport system for forecasting stem canker of oilseed rape in Europe - SPEC ( and made feasible to broaden our theoretical knowledge on air-borne spores of pathogenic and allergenic fungal genera Alternaria, Fusarium and Cladosporium.