Thomas Nuhse, PhD MA SFHEA

Dr, MA

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Personal profile


  • 2012- Lecturer
  • 2007-2012  BBSRC David Phillips Fellow
  • 2001-2006 Postdoctoral fellow, Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich, UK
  • 2001 PhD University of Basel, Switzerland
  • 1996 Diplom in Biochemistry, University of Tübingen, Germany

Research interests

Cell Wall Feedback Signalling

During plant growth, the rearrangement and de novo production of cell wall polysaccharides must be coordinated with the increase in cell size and surface area. How is information about the dynamics, composition and structural integrity of the wall fed back into the cell? Remodelling of cell walls also occurs during plant interactions with both symbiotic and pathogenic fungi and bacteria as well as with nematodes and parasitic plants. To what extent does the detection of cell wall damage contribute to plant resistance against invading microbes?

Unlike in other eukaryotes, cell-matrix interactions are poorly understood in plants. Fungal cell walls also withstand osmotic pressure and require controlled rearrangement to allow growth. Here, a dedicated integrity signalling pathway monitors cell wall status during growth, differentiation and stress. Identifying the analogous pathway in plants is the central effort in the lab. The recent discovery of an Arabidopsis receptor kinase that mediates part of the response to cellulose deficiency (Hématy et al., Curr. Biol. 17:922-931, 2007) is the most compelling evidence yet that such a pathway exists.

It is difficult to distinguish in genetic screens between direct physical consequences of cell wall defects and altered wall feedback signalling. We therefore use quantitative phosphoproteomics to study the acute response to cell wall damage, such as inhibition of cellulose synthesis with isoxaben. Many key regulatory proteins are likely to be rapidly phosphorylated in response to the damage. Focussing on plasma membrane-associated proteins, we quantify individual phosphorylation sites on the level of peptides with mass spectrometry. This approach has allowed us to understand regulatory mechanisms in plant innate immunity in an earlier study (Nühse et al., Plant Journal, in press). The long-term goal is to understand the role of cell wall integrity signalling in development and its connection with other stress and immune signalling pathways.


BIOL 10212    Biochemistry  

BIOL 21202    Plants for the Future

BIOL 21442    Disease in Nature

BIOL 31511    Biotic Interactions

My teaching spans a broad range of topics form introductory biochemistry via plant physiology to the ecology of biotic interactions, and I am keen to kindle students’ interest in topics not originally in their field of view: biochemistry for ecologists, plant biology for biomedically oriented students. I am also very interested in exploring ways of escaping traditional didactic teaching (for example with lecture flipping) and in using digital technology to enhance the learning experience. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Areas of expertise

  • LB2300 Higher Education
  • QK Botany
  • Q Science (General)


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