Plant Genetics (Weiberg)

Department / Institute
Faculty of Biology
Subject area
Plant Genetics
Project title
Pathogen extracellular vesicles in RNA effector delivery
Name of supervisor
Dr. Arne Weiberg
Number of open positions
Language requirements
Proficiency in English
Academic requirements
4-year Bachelor's plus Master's Degree; at the time of application, the last final exam should have taken place in the past 4 years.
Study model
Full doctoral study model: 36 or 48 months

Project description

The plant pathogens Botrytis cinerea and Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis deliver small RNA effectors into their host plants to suppress plant immunity genes (1, 2); a process known as cross-kingdom RNAi (3). How are pathogen small RNAs transported into plant cells? Recent studies suggest that extracellular vesicles (EVs) (4), play an important role in plant cross-kingdom host-pathogen communication (5). Are EVs a means of RNA transport during plant infection?We are seeking for a talented young career researcher, who is passionate about molecular biology and RNA science, and is willing to join our team and take together with us the next step for uncovering the fascinating, yet unknown mechanisms involved in cross-kingdom RNAi. The research project offers to elucidate the molecular mechanisms and functions of EV-based small RNA transport from pathogens into the host plants Arabidopsis and tomato. By mass spec analysis, we identified protein candidates to be involved in small RNA transport and cross-kingdom RNA communication. Your task will be to unravel their functions by applying modern genetical, biochemical, and cell biological methods that will pave the way for a better understanding of the RNA delivery mechanisms from pathogens into host plants and to use this knowledge to develop innovative RNAi-based crop protection strategies.


1. F. Dunker, …, A. Weiberg, Oomycete small RNAs bind to the plant RNA-induced silencing complex for virulence. Elife 9, e56096 (2020).

2. A. Weiberg et al., Fungal small RNAs suppress plant immunity by hijacking host RNA interference pathways. Science 342, 118-123 (2013).

3. A. Weiberg, M. Wang, M. Bellinger, H. Jin, Small RNAs: a new paradigm in plant-microbe interactions. Annu Rev Phytopathol 52, 495-516 (2014).

4. A. Ruf, …, A. Weiberg, Spotlight on plant RNA-containing extracellular vesicles. Curr Opin Plant Biol 69, 102272 (2022).

5. S. Kwon, C. Tisserant, M. Tulinski, A. Weiberg, M. Feldbrügge, Inside-out: From endosomes to extracellular vesicles in fungal RNA transport. Fung Biol Rev 34, 89-99 (2019).

For further information, please contact Dr. Arne Weiberg:

Research group website

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