On February 10th 1917 the first female professor in the Netherlands, Johanna Westerdijk, held her inaugural speech at Utrecht University. She became professor in Phytopathology, currently the Plant-Microbe Interactions chair group.
Part of the Institute of Environmental biology
In nature, plants are attacked by a multitude of pathogens and pests that can cause major crop losses in agriculture. To protect themselves, plants can activate a sophisticated immune system. Moreover, they recruit beneficial microbes to their root system that help them to grow better and boost immune responses. The Plant-Microbe Interactions group aims to unravel at the molecular level how the plant immune system orchestrates interactions with beneficial microbes, pathogens and insects. This provides a rational basis for developing sustainable strategies for disease resistance in next-generation crops that produce more with less input of fertilizers or pesticides.