Next event: 8-12 July 2024

We are offering a five days training course and workshop during which you will be exposed to cutting edge technologies and acquire know-how on various microscopy methods applied in plant-microbe interactions research.  A well-balanced blend of lectures and lab work presented by leading scientists in the field has been designed for PhD students, Postdocs and Junior Scientists. Learn to efficiently handle microscopes and discover new developments of techniques and instrumentation. The workshop is open to an international audience eager to acquire expertise in visualization of plant-microbe association.

We look forward to spending an inspiring week together and exploring microbes on and within plant tissues together with you.


Microscopy of plant-microbe interactions

Microorganisms living on and inside plants can be detected by various microscopy methods enabling to investigate their behaviour, their niches, and how they colonize their hosts. Different techniques are applied depending on whether single strains, full or synthetic microbiomes are studied. This talk will provide an introduction in the application of microscopy techniques to visualize adequately the microorganisms in their natural environment. Using these tools allows us to track down the microorganisms and to determine how they interact with the plants and how they are associated with various plant organs under different plant growth and environmental conditions.

Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization

FISH is widely applied to locate specific taxa of bacteria in their natural environment or under applied conditions. During the workshop, participants will acquire theoretical and practical know-how related to the technique, and then perform FISH on plant samples from natural environments.

Transformation of fungi

Most fungi are amenable to genetic transformation, and the plant pathogenic bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens is widely used as donor for DNA-transfer into fungal cells. By this method, markers like fluorescent protein encoding genes can be introduced into host cells to allow microscopic visualization of tagged strains. Fungi expressing fluorescent proteins can be used for advanced colonization and interaction studies in an otherwise natural environment like plants that are normally colonized by a wide variety of prokaryotic and eukaryotic microorganisms. Coinocculations with several strains tagged with different colours are possible for advanced microbial interaction studies.

Transformation of bacteria

Bacteria can be transformed with plasmids or Tn transposons to allow their visualization on and inside plant tissues. Participants will be taught all steps of bacterial transformation using suicide plasmids carrying a gfp or a gusA gene in gram-negative strains, a prerequisite to track down microbes inoculated onto plants.

Confocal laser scanning microscopy

Confocal laser microscopy is widely used to visualize microbes colonizing the surfaces or the inner plant tissues. Participants will learn how to adjust lasers and settings in order to see the microbes and their plant background in different fluorescent colors.

AFM and SEM: close-ups of the phyllosphere

Plant cuticles are lipophilic membranes with protective function consisting of a polymer matrix covered with epicuticular waxes. Both, topography and chemistry control microhabitat quality in the phyllosphere and hence the abundance as well as the biodiversity of colonizing microbes. AFM and SEM are excellent tools for studying this habitat at the microscale.

How microscopy adds to our understanding of plant microbe interactions

Like humans, plants are colonized by complex microbial communities and the role of plant colonizing microorganisms in plant development and health is well acknowledged. Successful plant colonization by microorganisms is the basic requirement for plant-microbe interaction. Thus, studies on the routes and niches of plant colonization have always been a central aspect in the research of plant-microbe interaction. An overview on recent developments and findings on plant-microbe interaction is presented and challenges, limitations and outlook are discussed.

Image Analysis

The introduction of digital imaging has revolutionized the scientific world as much as it has, years later, revolutionized photography. We will discuss properties of digital images and the files that hold them. We will get acquainted with digital image handling software and learn how to perform basic analysis and simple processing of digital images. These basic steps should allow the curious listener to launch on an autodidactic journey into more advanced topics.

3D Modelling