Prof Saskia Hogenhout

Project Leader
Crop Genetics

Research in the Hogenhout lab centres on Molecular-Plant-Microbe-Insect Interactions (MPMII).

Our first goal is to better understand the molecular basis of plant interactions with insect herbivores, particularly aphids, leafhoppers and whiteflies (hemipterans). These insects produce virulence proteins (effectors) in their saliva that modulate plant responses and aid insect colonization. We have identified insect effectors and are in the process of analysing their functions by finding plant targets and knocking down corresponding genes in the insects by plant-mediated RNA interference (RNAi).

Hemipteran insects are efficient transmitters of a diverse range of plant pathogens, predominantly viruses and bacteria, and hence may be viewed as the ‘mosquitoes of plants’. Therefore, our second goal is to understand plant-insect-pathogen interactions. Leafhoppers transmit phytoplasmas, which are bacterial plant pathogens related to mycoplasmas. Phytoplasmas induce dramatic changes in plant development, including proliferation of stems (witch’s brooms) and the reversion of flowers into leaf-like organs (phyllody). We have identified phytoplasma effectors that induce these phenotypes by interacting and degrading conserved proteins, including TCPs and MADS-box transcription factors. Plants also become very susceptible and attractive to insect vectors on which the phytoplasmas depend for transmission to other plants.  Thus, phytoplasmas appear to completely hijack their plant hosts changing them into ‘zombies’ destined to maximise pathogen survival.

By definition, studies on MPMII are interdisciplinary and require expertise with at least three unrelated organisms. We work in close collaboration with Dr Ian Bedford and the Entomology facility at the John Innes Centre.

How to be a successful pest: lessons from the green peach aphid

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How plants become zombies

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JIC training to help scientists fight disease-causing bacteria

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Recent Publications

Mathers T. C., Chen Y., Kaithakottil G., Legeai F., Mugford S. T., Baa-Puyoulet P., Bretaudeau A., Clavijo B., Colella S., Collin O., Dalmay T., Derrien T., Feng H., Gabaldon T., Jordan A., Julca I., Kettles G. J., Kowitwanich K., Lavenier D., Lenzi P., Lopez-Gomollon S., Loska D., Mapleson D., Maumus F., Moxon S., Price D. R. G., Sugio A., Van Munster M., Uzest M., Waite D., Jander G., Tagu D., Wilson A. C. C., Van Oosterhout C., Swarbreck D., Hogenhout S. A. (2017)

Rapid transcriptional plasticity of duplicated gene clusters enables a clonally reproducing aphid to colonize diverse plant species

Genome Biology 18 p27

Publisher’s version: 10.1186/s13059-016-1145-3

Mugford S., Barclay E., Drury C., Findlay K., Hogenhout S. (2016)

An Immuno-Suppressive Aphid Saliva Protein Is Delivered into the Cytosol of Plant Mesophyll Cells During Feeding

Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 0 p0

Publisher’s version: 10.1094/MPMI-08-16-0168-R

Orlovskis Z., Hogenhout S. A. (2016)

A Bacterial Parasite Effector Mediates Insect Vector Attraction in Host Plants Independently of Developmental Changes.

Frontiers in plant science 7 p885

Publisher’s version: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00885

Coleman A. D., Mugford S. T., Hogenhout S. A. (2016)

Silencing of Aphid Genes by dsRNA Feeding from Plants

Publisher’s version: 10.1007/978-3-319-24049-7

Orlovskis Z., Canale C., Haryono M., Lopes J. R. S., Kuo C. H., Hogenhout S. A. (2016)

A few sequence polymorphisms among isolates of Maize bushy stunt phytoplasma associate with organ proliferation symptoms in infected maize plants

Annals of Botany Not yet known pNot yet known

Publisher’s version: 10.1093/aob/mcw213

View All

Saskia Hogenhout

  • Friederike Bernsdorff Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Christine Wilson Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Vera Thole Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Pascal Pecher Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Zigmunds Orlovskis Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Sam Mugford Research Assistant
  • Claire Drurey Postgraduate Student
  • Dr Yazhou Chen Postdoctoral Scientist
  • Dr Ian Bedford Senior Scientist
  • Thomas Vincent Postgraduate Student


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