Dr Mark Banfield

Project Leader
Biological Chemistry

The Banfield Lab addresses fundamental questions in pathogen-host interactions at the molecular level. A long-standing interest of the group is the study of structure/function relationships in effector proteins from pathogens of mammals and plants. Effector proteins are molecules secreted from pathogens that either localize outside of or are translocated into host cells where they act to promote pathogen colonization. 

We also study the host side of plant immunity, or how plants respond to pathogens. Through the use of biochemical, biophysical and structural studies, we form hypotheses that are then tested in more in vivo settings. Ultimately, in addition to making fundamental discoveries concerning mechanisms of pathogen virulence, many of our studies are aimed at engineering plants to better resist infection by pathogens, improving performance in agriculture with a reduced need for chemical interventions.

We benefit from close links with colleagues at The Sainsbury Laboratory on the Norwich Research Park.

We also investigate the molecular basis of host cell adhesion mediated by internal thioester bonds, highly unusual protein cross-links we discovered in pili from gram-positive pathogens of mammals. 


Tel: 01603 450742

Bacteria use chemical harpoons to hold on tight to their hosts

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Dr Mark Banfield awarded tenure

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Recent Publications

Giannakopoulou A., Steele J. F., Segretin M. E., Bozkurt T., Zhou J., Robatzek S., Banfield M. J., Pais M., Kamoun S. (2015)

Tomato I2 immune receptor can be engineered to confer partial resistance to the oomycete Phytophthora infestans in addition to the fungus Fusarium oxysporum.

Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions

Publisher’s version: 10.1094/MPMI-07-15-0147-R

Maqbool A., Saitoh H., Franceschetti M., Stevenson C., Uemura A., Kanzaki H., Kamoun S., Terauchi R., Banfield M. J. (2015)

Structural basis of pathogen recognition by an integrated HMA domain in a plant NLR immune receptor.


Publisher’s version: 10.7554/eLife.08709

Walden M., Edwards J. M., Dziewulska A. M., Bergmann R., Saalbach G., Kan S. Y., Miller O. K., Weckener M., Jackson R. J., Shirran S. L., Botting C. H., Florence G. J., Rohde M., Banfield M. J., Schwarz-Linek U. (2015)

An internal thioester in a pathogen surface protein mediates covalent host binding.


Publisher’s version: 10.7554/eLife.06638

Wu C. H., Krasileva K. V., Banfield M. J., Terauchi R., Kamoun S. (2015)

The "sensor domains" of plant NLR proteins: more than decoys?

Frontiers in Plant Science 6

Publisher’s version: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00134

Wirthmueller L., Roth C., Fabro G., Caillaud M. C., Rallapalli G., Asai S., Sklenar J., Jones A. M., Wiermer M., Jones J. D., Banfield M. J. (2014)

Probing formation of cargo/importin-a transport complexes in plant cells using a pathogen effector.

Plant Journal

Publisher’s version: 10.1111/tpj.12691

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Mark Banfield

  • Dr Sebastian Eves-van Den Akker Visiting Worker
  • Freya Varden Postgraduate Student
  • Lennart Wirthmueller Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Miriam Walden Postdoctoral Scientist
  • John Steele Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Abbas Maqbool Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Richard Hughes Research Assistant
  • Benjamin Hall Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Marina Franceschetti Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Bushra Azmat Visiting Worker


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