Prof. Pietro D. Spanu

Professor of Molecular Plant Pathology

Research Focus

Plant-Microbe Interactions, Molecular and Genetic Basis of Biotrophy, Effector Biology, Cereal Powdery Mildews

Scientific Activities

The genome sequencing of Blumeria graminis, the fungus that causes powdery mildews in cereals, was a landmark on the road to understanding obligate biotrophic interactions between plants and fungi. One of the most significant discoveries was the importance of a superfamily of genes encoding effector-like proteins. The most prominent group of these includes proteins which resemble ribonucleases: the RibonucleAse-Like Proteins expressed in Haustoria (RALPH) effectors . My research now focusses on understanding the mechanisms that underpin the activity of the RALPH effectors, and what makes these essential for the display of full virulence in the cereal powdery mildews.

Significant Publications

Pennington, H. G.; Gheorghe, D. M.; Damerum, A.; Pliego, C.; Spanu, P. D.; Cramer, R.; Bindschedler, L. V. Interactions between the powdery mildew effector BEC1054 and barley proteins identify candidate host targets. Journal of Proteome Research 2016.

Spanu, P. D. RNA–protein interactions in plant disease: hackers at the dinner table. New Phytol 2015, 207, (4), 991-995.

Spanu, P. The genomics of obligate (and non-obligate) biotrophs. Annual Reviews of Phytopathology 2012, 50, 91-109.


Contact information

Imperial College London
Exhibition Rd