Laboratories and faculty

Plant Immunity

Outline of Research and Education

In nature, plants host a rich diversity of microbes, ranging from mutualistic symbionts to pathogens. The mode and outcome of plant-microbe interactions, including crop disease epidemics, are profoundly influenced by environmental factors, such as light, temperatures, water and nutrients. We aim to decipher the mechanisms by which plants sense and integrate microbial and abiotic cues to monitor and manage their associations with microbes, and also how microbes infect and influence host plants, under fluctuating environments. Our major research topics involve immune receptor signaling, biotic-abiotic stress signaling crosstalk, and functional significance and infection strategies of pathogenic and endophytic microbes. We hope our studies will reveal key principles underlying host-microbe interactions and contribute to developing human and biological resources for future sciences and sustainable agriculture.

Major Research Topics

  1. Danger sensing and signaling in plant immunity
  2. Signal integration between biotic and abiotic stress responses
  3. Beneficial and pathogenic microbes in plants
  4. Plant-associated microbiomes
Fig. 1
Fig. 1 Host-microbe-environment interactions provide a critical basis for host survival and health, and represent key questions in life sciences. We aim to better understand the underlying molecular principles and mechanisms in plants.
Fig. 2
Fig. 2 A basic framework for plant immunity signaling and its environmental modulation. Cell surface detection of microbe/damage-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs/DAMPs) by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) triggers intracellular defense signaling. We pursue the mechanisms by which plants integrate biotic and abiotic stress signaling. See Saijo and Loo, New Phytologist 2020.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3 Root colonization of endophyte Colletotrichum tofieldiae (Ct). Confocal microscopy reveals invasion of GFP-expressing Ct (green, labeled by dotted lines) into Arabidopsis roots (VAMP722-mRFP, Red). Intracellular fungal hyphae inside root cortical cells are enveloped by host membranes (PIP2A-mCherry, arrows). Bar = 10 μm.


  1. Okada et al., New Phytologist, in press 2020
  2. Saijo and Loo, New Phytologist, 225, 87-104, 2020
  3. Shinya et al., Plant J., 94, 4, 626-637, 2018
  4. Saijo et al., Plant J., 93, 592-613, 2018
  5. Hiruma et al., Curr. Opin. Plant Biol., 44, 145-154, 2018
  6. Ariga et al., Nature Plants, 3, 17072, 2017
  7. Yasuda, Okada and Saijo, Curr. Opin. Plant Biol., 38, 10-18, 2017
  8. Yamada et al., Science, 354,1427-1430, 2016
  9. Espinas et al., Front. Plant Sci., 7, 1201, 2016
  10. Hiruma et al., Cell, 165, 464-474, 2016
  11. Yamada et al, EMBO J., 35, 46-61, 2016
  12. Ross et al., EMBO J., 33, 62-75, 2014
  13. Tintor et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A., 110, 6211-6216, 2013
  14. Serrano et al., Plant Physiol., 158, 408-422, 2012
  15. Lu et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 106, 22522-22527, 2009
  16. Saijo et al., EMBO J., 28, 3439-3449, 2009
  17. Saijo et al., Molecular Cell, 31, 607-613, 2008
  18. Shen et al., Science, 315, 1098-1103, 2007