Preparation av ålgräsblad som är angripen av en parasit.
Preparation of eelgrass infected by the pathogenic protist Labyrinthula zostera.
Photo: Johan Wingborg

Chemical defence against pathogens in marine macrophytes

Research project

Short description

Pathogens are disease-causing viruses, bacteria, fungi or protists. Eventhough pathogens are omnipresent in the marine environment, our knowledge about pathogens that cause diseases in marine macrophytes is very limited compared to the broad knowledge of pathogens and diseases in terrestrial plants.

Like humans, macrophytes have to constantly defend themselves against pathogen attacks. They use physical and chemical defences to prevent or combat infections and diseases.

In this project, we study the host-pathogen interactions in the marine environment and how marine macrophytes can defend themselves by means of secondary, defence metabolites.

Eelgrass with black lesions, the typical sign of an infection by the pathogenic protist Labyrinthula zostera. Beside, in the circle, enlarged spindle-formed cells of the pathogene.
Illustration by Stina Jakobsson.

Photo: Stina Jakobsson

More about the research

Our current research investigates the interaction between Zostera marina (eelgrass) and its pathogen Labyrinthula zosterae. This endophytic protist is the causative agent of the so called eelgrass wasting diseases that highly diminished eelgrass populations worldwide in the 1930s due to a massive breakout of the infection.

The majority of all European eelgrass populations are still annualy infected by Labyrinthula visible as blackend streaks on the leaves. Our knowledge about this host-pathogen system is, however, still very limited.

Our research focuses on defence mechanisms in eelgrass to resist and combat infections by the pathogen and the role of secondary metabolites in this defence.