Photographer: Onbekend

dr. ir. H.A. (Harrold) van den Burg

  • Faculty of Science
  • Visiting address
    Science Park A
    Science Park 904  Amsterdam
    Room number: C2.214
  • Postal address:
    Postbus  94215
    1090 GE  Amsterdam
    T: 0205257797
    T: 0205257706

Research Interest

Within the Molecular Plant Pathology, we focuses on the molecular interactions between plants and their pathogens. Within my research team we are interested in the regulation by a post-translational modification, SUMO. In addition, we are interersted in the bacterial disease caused by Xanthomonas on Arabidopsis en how the effectors control the infection process. The effector XopD of Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris acts as SUMO protease and contributes to tolerance to Xanthomonas.

SUMO as suppressor of the Plant innate immunity

Key to the survival of any organism is the ability to defend itself. A critical aspect of a successful defense response is the ability of a plant to rapidly mount a defense response upon pathogen attack. This defense response heavily relies on transcriptional reprogramming in the first hours after invasion, and often results in programmed cell death and the accumulation of anti-microbial compounds. Combined, these responses provide resistance to a broad range of invaders. In non-infected plants these defense responses are normally kept silentas sustained activation would be a costly process, but they are rapidly induced after infection.
Recent research from our group revealed that a protein modification called SUMO ( small ubiquitin-likemodifier ) controls both suppression and activation of these plant defence genes (Van den Burg et al., 2010). For instance, the SUMO E3 ligase SIZ1 controls directly accumulation of the defense hormone Salicylic acid (Lee et al., 2007). We found that this involves conjugation of the paralogs SUMO1 and/or SUMO2. In contrast, the paralog SUMO3 acts as an activator of the defense response downstream of the defense hormone salicylic acid (SA).
SUMO acts as a protein modification, which means that is covalently coupled to other proteins. In the case of SUMO these targets are predominantly nuclear proteins. We study the direct effect of SUMO on transcriptional regulation of the plant defense response. SUMO conjugation of transcription factors is tightly linked with recruitment of chromatin-modifying enzymes to sites of gene regulation (e.g. Miller et al., 2010, Van den Burg and Takken, 2009). Conjugation of SUMO to transcription factors is known to induce changes in the activity and composition of transcription complexes via recruitment of chromatin-modifying enzymes. Chromatin-modifying enzymes determine the accessibility of the DNA for transcription by compacting and/or decorating DNAand histone proteins that together constitute chromatin. These decorations are considered to be the second genetic code. Currently, little is known about the role chromatin remodeling has on the regulation of the plant defense response. Our research on the model system Arabidopsis thaliana (thale crest) indicates that SUMO is essential as 'hand-break' of the plant defense system. Currently, we are studying how SUMO conjugation of transcription regulators affects the chromatin structure (including histone modifications) of defense genes and howthis affects their expression.

Cross-talk between SUMO and other protein modifications

Protein modifications come in different flavours, such as phosphorylation and SUMOylation. Proteomicsstudies have revealed that these two proteinmodifications target overlapping sets of nuclear proteins that directly control defense gene expression. Phosphorylation predominantly converts these regulator proteins into transcriptional activators, while SUMOylation is generally thought to turn them into repressors of defence gene expression.
We study the dynamic cross-talk between these different protein modifications on defense gene expression and how this ultimately controls the plant innate immune system. To this aim, we focus on changes in both the local chromatin structure around defense genes and the histone modifications.

Other Team Leaders Molecular Plant Pathology

Molecular Plant Pathology is headed by Prof. dr. Ben Cornelissen. The other two PIs in the team are:



Green Life Sciences


Witin the University of Amsterdam, plant research is a Research priority. We have three different groups working in the Green Life Sciences:


  • Molecular Plant Pathology
  • Plant Physiology
  • Plant Development & (Epi)Genetics


If you are interested in plant research topics at the University of Amsterdam you can visit our Green Life Sciences website. The website also offers information on our MSc program Green Life Sciences. Our groups are positioned within the research institute SILS (Swammerdam Instute for Life Sciences).


We also participate in the Dutch graduate School Experimental Plant Sciences that acts as a training platform for our PhD students.


Ilyas, M., Horger, A.C., Bozkurt, T.O., van den Burg, H.A., Kaschani, F., Kaiser, M., Belhaj, K., Smoker, M., Joosten, M.J.H.A., Kamoun, S., and an der Hoorn, R.A.L.,(2015), Functional Divergence of Two Secreted Immune Proteases of Tomato, Current Biology 25(1-7).



Liebrand, T.W.H., van den Burg, H.A., Joosten, M.H.A.J. (2014), Two for all: receptor-associated kinases SOBIR1 and BAK1, Trends Plant Sciences, 19(2):123-32.



Ma, L., van den Burg, H.A., Cornelissen, B.J.C. and Takken, F.L.W. (2013) Molecular Basis of Effector Recognition by Plant NB-LRR Proteins, chapter 2 page 23-40. In Wiley-Blackwell, editor Sessa, G. eds. ISBN-13: 978-0470959503



De Wit, P.J.G.M.*, van der Burgt, A., Ökmen, B., Stergiopoulos, I.,       Abd-Elsalam, K., Aerts, A.L., Bahkali, A.H.A., Beenen, H.G., Chettri, P., Cox, M.P., Datema, E., de Vries, R.P., Dhillon, B., Ganley, A.R., Griffiths, S., Guo, Y., Hamelin, R.C., Henrissat, B., Kabir, M.S., Karimi Jashni, M.,  Kema, G., Klaubauf, S., Lapidus, A., Levasseur, A., Lindquist, E., Mehrabi, R., Ohm, R.A., Owen, T., Salamov, A., Schwelm, A., Schijlen, E., Sun, H., van den Burg, H.A., van Ham, R.C.H.J., Zhang, S., Goodwin, S.B., Grigoriev, I.V., Collemare, J., and Bradshaw, R.E.* (2012). The genomes of the fungal plant pathogens Cladosporium fulvum and Dothistroma septosporum reveal adaptation to different hosts and lifestyles but also signatures of common ancestry. PLoS Genetics, 8:e1003088.


Mazur, M.J. and van den Burg, H.A. (2012). Global SUMO proteome responses guide gene regulation, mRNA biogenesis, and plant stress responses. Front. Plant Sci. 3:215. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00215.



van den Burg, H.A * and Takken, F.L.W. (2010) SUMO-, MAPK-, and resistance protein-signaling converge at transcription complexes that regulate plant innate immunity, Plant Signalling and Behaviour 5:1 ( corresponding author ).

van den Burg, H.A.*, Kini, R., Schuurink, R. andTakken, F.L.W. * (2010) . A rabidopsis SUMO paralogs have distinct functions in development and innate immunity, Plant Cell 22:1998-2016 ( *= joint corresponding authors )

Stergiopoulos, I., Van den Burg, H.A. , Ökmen, B., Beenen, H., Van Liere, S., Kema, G.H.J. and De Wit, P.J.G.M (2010).Tomato Cf resistance proteinsmediate recognition of cognate homologous effectors from fungi pathogenic on dicots and monocots , Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA .107: 7610-7615.

van Ooijen, G., Vossen, J.H., Van den Burg, H.A., Roels, W., Cornelissen, B.J.C. and Takken F.L.W. (2010) HSP17 interacts with, and is required for function and stability of tomato resistance protein I-2, Plant Journal 63:563-572 .



de Wit, P.J.G.M., Mehrabi, R., van den Burg, H.A. and Stergiopoulos, I. (2009) , Fungal effector proteins: past, presence and future, Mol. Plant Pathol. 10(6):735-747.

van den Burg, H.A., and Takken, F.L.W. (2009) . Does chromatin remodeling mark systemic acquired resistance? Trends Plant Sci. 14, 286-294.



van den Burg, H.A., Tsitsigiannis, D.I., Rowland, O., Lo, J., Rallapalli, G., MacLean, D., Takken, F.L.W., and Jones, J.D.G. (2008) . The F-Box protein ACRE189/ACIF1 regulates cell death and defense responses activated during pathogen recognition in tobacco and tomato, Plant Cell 20 , 697-719.



Van Ooijen, G. , Van den Burg H.A., Cornelissen,B.J.C., Takken F.L.W. (2007) Structure and Function of Resistance Proteins in Solanaceous Plants, Ann. Rev. Phytopathol. 40, 43-72.



Van den Burg, H.A. , Harrison, S., Joosten, M.H.A.J., Vervoort, J. and de Wit, P.J.G.M. (2006) . Cladosporium fulvum Avr4 protects fungal cell walls against hydrolysis by plant chitinases accumulating during infection, Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 19, 1420-1430.



van den Burg, H.A. , Spronk, C.A.E.M., Boeren, S., Kennedy, M.A. Visser, J.P.C., Vuister, G.W., de Wit, P.J.G.M., and Vervoort, J. (2004) . Binding of the AVR4 elicitor of Cladosporium fulvum to chitotriose units is facilitated by positive allosteric protein-protein interactions , J. Biol. Chem. 279, 16786-16796.


van 't Slot, K.A.E., van den Burg, H.A. , Kloks, C.P.A.M., Hilbers, C.W., Knogge, W., and Papavoine, C.H.M. (2003) Solution structure of the fungal plant disease resistance-triggeringprotein NIP1 shows a novelbeta-sheet fold, J. Biol. Chem. 278, 45730-45736.


van den Burg,H.A. , Westerink, N.,Francoijs, K.-J., Roth,R.,Woestenenk, E., Boeren, S., de Wit, P.J.G.M., Joosten, M.H.A.J., and Vervoort, J. (2003) . Natural disulfide bond disrupted mutants of AVR4 of the tomato pathogen Cladosporium fulvum are sensitive to proteolysis, thereby, circumventing Cf-4mediated resistance, J. Biol. Chem. 278, 27340-27346.


Westerink, N., Roth, R., van den Burg, H.A. , de Wit , P.J.G.M., and Joosten, M.H.A.J. (2002) . The AVR4 elicitor protein of Cladosporium fulvum binds to fungal components with high affinity, Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 15, 1219-1227.


Rivas, S., Mucyn, T., van den Burg, H.A. , Vervoort, J., and Jones, J.D.G. (2002) . An ~400 kDa membrane-associated complex that contains one molecule of the resistance protein Cf-4, Plant J. 29,783-796.


de Wit, P.J.G.M., Brandtwagt, B.F., van den Burg, H.A. , Cai, X., van der Hoorn, R.A.L., de Jong, C.F., van Klooster, J., de Kock, M.J.D., Kruijt, M., Lindhout, W.H., Luderer, R., Takken, F.L., Westerink, N., Vervoort, J., and Joosten, M.H.A.J . (2002) .The molecular basis of co-evolution between Cladosporium fulvum and tomato, Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 81, 409-412.


van den Burg, H.A. , de Wit, P.J.G.M., and Vervoort, J. (2001) . Efficient 13C/15N- double labeling of the avirulence protein AVR4in a methanol-utilizing strain (Mut(+)) of Pichia pastoris , J. Biomol. NMR 20, 251-261.


van den Hooven, H.W., van den Burg, H.A. , Vossen, P., Boeren, S., de Wit, P.J.G.M., and Vervoort, J. (2001) . Disulfide bond structure of the AVR9 elicitor of the fungal tomato pathogen Cladosporium fulvum : Evidence for a cystine knot, Biochemistry 40, 3458-3466.


Visser, A.J.W.G., van den Berg, P.A.W., Visser, N.V., van Hoek, A., van den Burg, H.A. , Parsonage, D., and Claiborne, A. (1998) . Time-resolved fluorescence of Flavin Adenine Dinucleotide in wild-type and mutant NADH Peroxidase. Elucidation of quenching sites and discovery of a new fluorescence depolarization mechanism, J. Phy. Chem B 102, 10431-10439.


Other Patents (application), experience with valorization

van den Burg, H.A., de Wit, P.J.G.M., and Vervoort, J. (inventors) (publication date

06/26/2003;Filing date:07/26/2002). Efficient 13C/15N double labeling of proteins in a methanol-utilizing strain (Mut+) of Pichia pastoris, US patent 20030119109.



SUMO wrestling determines expression of plant defense genes

  • There are always possibilities for students to perform a practical period (minimal 4 months) in our Lab - Please inquire for specific projects currently available.
  • Recognition of plant pathogens induces signaling pathways that alter gene activity. The induced genes provide full resistance against pathogens. The signaling pathways that lead to resistance are well established in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana (such as genes involved in phosphorylation signaling and transcription factors that activate defense genes). We have evidence that the protein SUMO inhibits the activity of a subset of transcription factors. SUMO is a post-translational modification that is coupled to these transcription factors andreduces the accessibility of the DNA for transcription.We have identified both candidate transcription factors and defense genes that are subject to SUMO regulation during a defense response. In this project we will study how SUMO modification of these transcription factors determines the defense response
  • Depending on the length of the practical training period, projects involve a diverse array of techniques: protein expression and purification, western blotting, SUMO conjugation assays, analysis of mutant plants, real-time PCR, chromatin immunoprecipiations (ChIP), cloning .
Contact details:
  • Harrold van den Burg
  • E-mail:

Group members


Bas Beerens, research technician

  • Functional studies of the SUMO paralogues in plants


Valentin Hammoudi, PhD student

  • Functional studies of the SUMO paralogues in plants
  • [NWO-Vidi]


Magdalena Mazur, PhD student

  • SUMO proteomics
  • [NWO-Vidi]


 Marieke van Hulten, Postdoc

  • Functional genomics on bacterial disease in Arabidopsis
  • Topsector TKI-U


Sayantani Chatterjee, Technician

  • Functional genomics on bacterial disease in Arabidopsis
  • Topsector TKI-U
  • No ancillary activities

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