Ann Depicker was a professor at the Ghent University from 1992 till her retirement in 2018. She taught molecular genetics to a generation of biologists and biotechnologists for more than 30 years, and she organized master courses in plant biotechnology and epigenetics. From 1997 till 2018, she was Chair of the UGent Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics

She started her PhD in 1974 searching for the tumor-inducing principle in Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and during her scientific carrier she witnessed the history and all exciting developments in plant biotechnology: the discovery period why and how Agrobacterium makes tumors in plants, the insight that Agrobacterium can be used to make transgenic plants, the phenomenal advances that were made subsequently in plant science, the euphoria about the potential for plant biotech industries, and the disappointment about the resistance against GMOs.  

In 1996, when the VIB institute was raised, Prof. Ann Depicker became PI of a research group concentrating on understanding processes such as integration of transferred DNA into plant cell chromosomes, and the epigenetic regulation of the transferred DNA. In the last years of her career, she used this expertise to show that plants can make functional antibodies, and that these can be used as biotherapeutics to prevent and to treat infectious diseases.
All other publications of Ann Depicker can be found here.


Bruno Cammue is a visiting PI (10%) at PSB.

Research on Plant Fungi Interactions (PFIs) was initiated in the early 1990s with an extensive screening for novel antimicrobial plant peptides, and resulted in the discovery of several types of novel antifungal proteins. On one of them, named the plant defensins (PDFs), pioneering research was continued. PDFs are small, basic, cysteine-rich antifungal peptides that are structurally related to insect and mammalian defensins. They are active against a broad range of phytopathogenic fungi (e.g. Botrytis cinereaFusarium spp., Alternaria spp.) and even human pathogens (e.g. Candida albicans and Aspergillus flavus), whereas they are nontoxic to plant and mammalian cells. Primarily based on PDF studies, research on PFIs was further developed in the late 1990s in two closely collaborating research units, focused on each side of the plant-fungus interaction, being the Plant Unit and the Fungus/Yeast Unit, respectively.

For a full overview of his research projects including fungus and yeast research, please refer to: