Youssef Belkhadir

Plant cell signalling at the interface of growth and defences

Research focus

A key question in biology is how organisms “adapt”, or acquire environment-dependent fitness advantages. Plants must grow fast enough to compete with their neighbours, while maintaining appropriate defences to survive in the presence of pathogens. Understanding how plants make the "decision" to keep safe from harm while growing is crucial to our quest for an abundant food supply and cheap, dependable sources of energy. In my laboratory we utilize of a complex array of technologies to understand how light and growth hormones signals allow plants to optimize the fluctuating investments they are making towards growth and defences in specific cells and organs but also at the population level. The laboratory aims at training a new breed of scientists who will not only be able to integrate plant developmental processes in the face of plant defences but will also understand plant defence responses in the context of environmental (light) and endogenous cues (hormones).

Selected publications

Elwira Smakowska-Luzan, G. Adam Mott, ..., Belkhadir Y (2018) An extracellular network of Arabidopsis leucine-rich repeat receptor kinases. Nature 553(7688):342-6.

Stegmann M, Monaghan J, Smakowska-Luzan E, et al. (2017) The receptor kinase FER is a RALF-regulated scaffold controlling plant immune signaling. Science 355(6322):287-9.

Doblas VG, Smakowska-Luzan E, Fujita S, et al. (2017) Root diffusion barrier control by a vasculature-derived peptide binding to the SGN3 receptor. Science 355(6322):280-4.

Elsayad K, Werner S,...,Belkhadir Y (2016) Mapping the subcellular mechanical properties of live cells in tissues with fluorescence emission-Brillouin imaging. Sci Signal 9(435):rs5.

Mott GA, Thakur S, Smakowska E, et al. (2016) Genomic screens identify a new phytobacterial microbe-associated molecular pattern and the cognate Arabidopsis receptor-like kinase that mediates its immune elicitation. Genome Biol 17:98.

Saur IM, Kadota Y, Sklenar J, et al. (2016) NbCSPR underlies age-dependent immune responses to bacterial cold shock protein in Nicotiana benthamiana. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 113(12):3389-94.

Smakowska E, Kong J, Busch W, Belkhadir Y (2016) Organ-specific regulation of growth-defense tradeoffs by plants. Curr Opin Plant Biol 29:129-137.

Belkhadir Y, Jaillais Y (2015) The molecular circuitry of brassinosteroid signaling. New Phytol 206(2):522-40.

Belkhadir Y, Yang L, Hetzel J, et al. (2014) The growth–defense pivot: crisis management in plants mediated by LRR-RK surface receptors. Trends Biochem Sci 39(10):447-56.

Belkhadir Y, Jaillais Y, Epple P, et al.  (2012) Brassinosteroid modulate the efficiency of plant immune responses to microbe-associated molecular patterns. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109(1):297-302.

Hothorn M, Belkhadir Y, Dreux M, et al. (2011) Structural basis of steroid hormone perception by the receptor kinase BRI1. Nature 474 (7352):467-71.

Jaillais Y, Belkhadir Y, Balsemao-Pires E, et al. (2011) Extracellular leucine rich repeats as a platform for receptor/coreceptor complex formation. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108 (20):8503-7.

Belkhadir Y, Wierzba M, Durbak A, et al. (2010) Intragenic suppression of a trafficking defective Brassinoteroid receptor in Arabidopsis. Genetics 185(4):1283-96.

Belkhadir Y and Chory J (2006) Brassinosteroid signaling: a paradigm for steroid hormone signaling from the cell surface. Science 314 (5804): 1410-1.

Holt BF 3rd, Belkhadir Y, Dangl JL (2005) Antagonistic control of disease resistance protein stability in the plant immune system. Science 309 (5736): 929-32.

Gregor Mendel Institute of
Molecular Plant Biology GmbH

Dr. Bohr-Gasse 3
1030 Vienna, Austria

T: +43 1 79044-9000
F: +43 1 79044-9001
E: office(at)