Professor Benjamin Horwitz

Research Interests:

Signal transduction and gene expression in fungal pathogens

Short Synopsis:

The Horwitz lab studies the pathways through which the cells of filamentous fungi respond to signals from the environment. Like all microorganisms, fungi detect a variety of cues including light, gravity, pH, redox state and nutrients. For pathogens, chemical signals originating in the host are also very important. We focus on two main systems: Cochliobolus heterostrophus, a pathogen of maize, and Trichoderma virens, a soil saprophyte/mycotroph which establishes a beneficial interaction with plant roots. In C. heterostrophus, we have been recently been looking at the role of phenolics as small-molecule signals in the interaction with the host plant. In T. virens, we are studying small secreted proteins which provide signals to the plant, inducing systemic resistance to subsequent infection by pathogens. For C. heterostrophus, our main collaboration is with the lab of Prof. Gillian Turgeon at Cornell University. For T. virens, we are collaborating with Prof. Charles Kenerley at Texas A&M University, and with an international network of researchers involved in all aspects of Trichoderma biology, from genomics to applications in agriculture.


Shanmugam V, Ronen M, Shalaby S, Larkov O, Rachamim Y, Hadar R, Rose MS, Carmeli S, Horwitz BA, Lev S. The fungal pathogen Cochliobolus heterostrophus responds to maize phenolics: novel small molecule signals in a plant-fungal interaction. Cell Microbiol. 2010 12:1421-34
Kosti I, Mandel-Gutfreund Y, Glaser F, Horwitz BA.Comparative analysis of fungal protein kinases and associated domains. BMC Genomics. 2010 11:133.
Ohm RA, Feau N, Henrissat B, Schoch CL, Horwitz BA, Barry KW, Condon BJ, Copeland AC, Dhillon B, Glaser, F, Hesse, CN, Kosti I, LaButti K, Lindquist EA, Susan Lucas S, Salamov AA, Bradshaw RE, Ciuffetti L, Hamelin RC, Kema GHJ, Lawrence C, Scott JA, Spatafora JW, Turgeon BG, de Wit PJGM, Zhong S, Goodwin SB, Grigoriev IV. 2012. Diverse Lifestyles and Strategies of Plant Pathogenesis Encoded in the Genomes of Eighteen Dothideomycetes Fungi. PLoS Pathogens  8(12): e1003037.
Shalaby S, Horwitz BA, Larkov O. 2012. Structure-activity relationships delineate how the maize pathogen Cochliobolus heterostrophus uses aromatic compounds as signals and metabolites. Molec Plant-Microbe Interactions 25: 931-40
Trushina N, Levin M, Mukherjee PK, Horwitz BA. 2013. PacC and pH-dependent transcriptome of the mycotrophic fungus Trichoderma virens. BMC Genomics. 2013 Feb 28;14:138. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-14-138.