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Distinguished Professor
Department of Biology
4260 Genome Sciences Building
919-962-5624 – office
919-537-3890 – lab


Our research revolves around the plant Arabidopsis thaliana, which we use as a model to study the interactions that take place during infections by phytopathogenic bacteria and fungus. To learn more about the exact nature of our investigations, please look at the current projects, or some of the lab’s recent publications (see below).

The Dangl Lab has more than 2000 square feet of dedicated space on the top floor of the new Genome Science Building. This fantastic facility just opened in 2011 and we share space with faculty from Biology, Chemistry, Genetics (the Director of our next gen DNA sequencing facility), Computer Science and Statistics. This arrangement is driving new interdisciplinary collaborations, and my lab now has doctoral students focusing on computational problems, co-mentored by faculty from our Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (BCB) doctoral program, as well as students in Biology, Genetics, and M and I.

The lab is quite fortunate to be a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Biology. The department is extremely strong in important areas related to this project, such as the genetics of signal transduction in yeast and Drosophila, and the cell biology of cell division and pattern formation. In fact, with an expansion of the department’s Plant Sciences section there are now six PIs working on Arabidopsis in Plant Molecular Genetics and Development, creating a diverse research and training environment.

Our geographical location near the Research Triangle Park (RTP) in North Carolina also places us in one of the leading areas for cutting-edge research in biotechnology. The RTP environment includes, beyond our colleagues at UNC, plant biologists at Duke, NC State, Novartis and Paradigm Genetics. Collectively, we meet once a month for the “Triangle Arabidopsis Group” informal workshop, for monthly Plant Biology seminars sponsored by the centrally located North CarolinaBiotechnologyCenter, and once each year for the Plant Biology Retreat, typically attended by 130-140 area plant scientists.

There are two main thematic areas in the Dangl-Grant lab. They all revolve around understanding the molecular basis of plant-microbe interactions. One group in the lab studies the structure and function of various intracellular innate immune system receptors called NB-LRR (or, more simply, NLR proteins) proteins. Another group studies how pathogen ‘effector proteins’ (virulence factors) modulate plant cellular targets to modulate immune system output. Here, we focus on bacterial Type III effector proteins and the recently described oomycete effectors of the ‘RxLR’ class. These two aspects of our work are part of a minor revolution in so called “innate” or “ancient” immune systems biology.

We also study the plant microbiome. Here, we are interested to discover the community wide organizational principles that guide the assembly of bacterial communities on and inside the root and on and inside the leaf. We hope to find microbes that provide positive ‘ecosystem services’ to the plant, to drive plant growth and health.

We use all of the genomics tools imaginable in the Arabidopsis system – next gene sequencing, transcriptional profiling, insertion mutants for reverse genetics, forward genetic screens, and increasingly, cell and biochemical tools like confocal microscopy column chromatography, protein purification and mass spectroscopy. Our microbiome work requires knowledge of population genetics, statistics, and computational skills.

The lab is highly integrated-people work in small groups that recognize the advantages of synergy and teamwork. The small groups have very undefined boundaries and there is a lot of cross fertilization of ideas and reagents. We are very much one group!

Selected Publications

(see full list at:


Roberts, M, S Tang, A Stallmann, JL Dangl* and V Bonardi (2013) Genetic requirements for signaling from an autoactive plant NB-LRR intracellular innate immune receptor. PLoS Genetics 9, e1003465. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003465 (* corresponding author).

JA Peiffer, A Spor, Z Jin, O Koren, SG Tringe, JL Dangl, ES Buckler and RE Ley (2013). Diversity and heritability of the maize rhizosphere microbiome under field conditions. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA. doi: 10.1073/pnas. 1302837110 2012

Bonardi, V and JL Dangl (2012) How complex are intracellular immune receptor signaling complexes? Frontiers Plant Sci. 3, 1-9. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00237.

He, Y, E-H Chung, DA Hubert, P Tornero and JL Dangl (2012) Specific missense alleles of the Arabidopsis Jasmonic Acid co-receptor COI1 regulate innate immune receptor accumulation and function. PLoS Genetics 8, e1003018. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003018.

Lundberg, DS, SL Lebeis, S Herrera-Paredes, S Yourstone, J Gehring, S. Malfatti, J Tremblay, A Engelbrekston, V Kunin, T Glavina del Rio, R Edgar, T Eickhorst, RE Ley, P Hugenholtz, SG Tringe and JL Dangl (2012) Defining the core Arabidopsis thaliana root microbiome. Nature 488, 86-90. doi: 10.1038/nature11237.

Bonardi, V, K Cherkis, MT Nishimura and JL Dangl (2012) A new eye on NLR proteins: focused on clarity or diffused by complexity? Curr. Opinion Immunol. 24, 41-50. 10.1016/j.coi.2011.12.006.


Belkhadir, Y, Y Jallais, E Balsemão-Pires, P Epple, JL Dangl* and J Chory* (2011) Brassinosteroids modulate the efficiency of plant immune responses to microbe-associated molecular patterns. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1112840108 PR (*Co-corresponding authors).

Bonardi, V, S Tang, A Stallmann, M Roberts, K Cherkis and JL Dangl (2011) Expanded functions for a family of plant intracellular immune receptors beyond specific recognition of pathogen effectors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA. 108, 16463-1646. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1113726108.

The Arabidopsis Interactome Mapping Consortium (2011) Evidence for Network Evolution in an Arabidopsis Interactome Map. Science 333, 602-607. doi: 10.1126/science.1203877.

Mukhtar, MS, A-R Carvunis, M Dreze, P Epple, J Steinbrenner, J Moore, M Tasan, M Galli, T Hao, MT Nishimura, SJ. Pevzner, SE Donovan, L Ghamsari, B Santhanam, V Romero, MM Poulin, F Gebreab, BJ Gutierrez, S Tam, D Monachello, M Boxem, CJ. Harbort, N McDonald, L Gai, H Chen, Y He, EU Effectoromics Consortium, J Vandenhaute, FP Roth, DE Hill, JR Ecker, M Vidal*, J Beynon*, P Braun* and JL Dangl* (2011) Independently evolved virulence effectors converge onto hubs in a plant immune system network. Science 333, 596-601. doi: 10.1126/science.1203659. (*Co-corresponding authors).

Baltrus, DA, MT Nishimura, A Romanchuk, JH Chang, MS Mukhtar, TF Law, K Cherkis, J Roach, SR Grant, CD Jones and JL Dangl (2011) Dynamic evolution of pathogenicity revealed by sequencing and comparative genomics of 19 Pseudomonas syringae isolates. PLoS Pathogens 7, e1002132. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002132.

Gao, Z, E-H Chung, T K Eitas, J L Dangl (2011) The plant intracellular innate immune receptor RPM1 is activated at, and functions on, the plasma membrane. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 108, 7619-7624. doi:10.1073/pnas.1104410108.

Coll, NS, P Epple and JL Dangl (2011) Programmed cell death in the plant immune system. Cell Death & Different. doi:10.1038/cdd.2011.37.

Jallais, Y, Y Belkhadir, E Balsemão-Pires, JL Dangl and J Chory (2011) BAK1 is recruited to activated cell surface receptors through its extracellular leucine-rich-repeat domain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA 108,8503-8507. doi:10.1073/pnas.1103556108.

Chung, EH, L da Cunha, A-J Wu, Z Gao, K Cherkis, AJ Afzal, D Mackey and JL Dangl (2011) Specific threonine phosphorylation of a host target by two unrelated type III effectors activates a host innate immune receptor in plants. Cell Host & Microbe 9, 125-136. doi:10.1016/j.chom.2011.01.009.

Complete list of publications.


  • John N. Couch Professor of Biology
  • Member, the National Academy of Sciences (2007).
  • Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (2011)