Institute of Plant Genetics
Polish Academy of Sciences

Plant-Pathogen Interaction

Prof. Łukasz Stępień
Monika Urbaniak, PhD (adjunct)
Elsie Ayamoh Enow, MSc (PhD student)
Maria Kwiatkowska (technician)
Research topics of the team members are focused on the biochemical and molecular characteristics of the saprobiotic and plant-pathogenic mycotoxin-producing fungi (mainly from Fusarium genus), isolated yearly from agriculturally important crops, like wheat, maize, asparagus or garlic. Experiments are aimed at revealing the genetic basis of mycotoxin biosynthesis by strains of different species as well as molecular factors affecting the activity of the metabolic pathways.
Based on the DNA sequence analyses, we are able to reconstruct the phylogeny of individual species, also using genes involved in secondary metabolism. Moreover, the mechanisms of bioactive compounds biotransformation by entomopathogenic fungi are being studied to evaluate their availability for biotechnological applications. We are also investigating the roles of mycotoxins and lytic enzymes in the molecular communication between the pathogen and the host plant.
Research profile
  • Molecular identification and characterization of plant- and entomopathogenic fungi.
  • Fusarium toxigenic abilities analysis, quantification of mycotoxins produced in vitro and detection of the biosynthetic genes from the respective metabolic pathways.
  • Evaluation of the cell wall-degrading enzymes’ activities presented by the pathogenic  fungi and respective genes’ expression studies.
  • Kinetics of Fusarium mycotoxins biotransformation by strains of fungi in liquid cultures.
  • Identification and cloning of the genes encoding enzymes governing the metabolism of mycotoxins.



  • isolation and purification of fungal strains from environmental samples,
  • microscopic analysis and taxonomic characteristics,
  • extraction of genomic DNA and the total RNA, synthesis of cDNA,
  • PCR and RT-PCR amplification,
  • molecular analysis of RAPD, SCAR, AFLP, SSR and phylogenetic markers,
  • DNA fragment cloning and sequencing,
  • biochemical analyses of enzymes activities,
  • quantification of mycotoxins produced in vitro and in planta using UPLC and HPLC-MS.


Current research activities


Selected papers


Research projects




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