Ma, Lay-Sun (馬麗珊)

Associate Research Fellow

  • Academia Sinica and National Chung Hsing University, TIGP-MBAS, Ph. D. (2011)
  • +886-2-2787-1146(Lab: R416)
  • +886-2-2787-1145(Office: R415)
  • laysunma@gate.sinica.edu.tw
  • Molecular mechanisms of plant-fungi interactions
  • Lab Website
  • Google Scholar

Effectors in Plant-Fungus Interactions


Corn Smut Fungus Ustilago maydis

U. maydis is a dimorphic fungus that causes smut disease on all aerials part of maize by forming large tumors on infected tissues. It grows as haploid yeast-like cells outside the maize host. Upon sensing plant environmental cues, it undergoes a transformation into a parasitic filamentous stage of its life cycle. This developmental process, involving the formation of infective structures facilitating penetration, tumorigenesis, and eventual sporogenesis, is complex and irreversible and needs to be precisely regulated.

Sensing Environmental Signals and Counteracting Host Apoplastic Immunity

The ability of sensing environmental cues enables U. maydis to switch from vegetative to filamentous growth, direct their orientation toward nutrient sources, and rapidly respond to plant defense by coordinating the secretion of large arsenal of effector proteins in consecutive waves to complete their life cycle inside the host.

Our Focus: Effectors

Given the crucial role of effectors in disease progression, delving into their biochemical functions is vital for understanding fungal virulence mechanisms. Analyzing effectors comprehensively will provide insights into fungal virulence and plant defense mechanisms, advancing our understanding of plant-pathogenic basidiomycete interactions, and potentially guiding crop disease management strategies.

Our research interests

To uncover the invasion strategies of U. maydis and prevent the onset of initial infection, we focus on studying effectors located at the interaction interface of maize-U. maydis, aiming to reveal the following mechanisms:

  • Sensing and adaptation mechanisms
  • Effector regulatory mechanisms
  • Mechanisms by which fungal cells suppress apoplastic immunity