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Kasper Røjkjær Andersen appointed Professor in Plant Structural Biology

Kasper Røjkjær Andersen has been appointed Professor in Plant Structural Biology at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University as of 1 May 2024. His research focuses on understanding how plants form symbiosis with bacteria and fungi, and how to harness this ability to support the Green Transition.

Kasper Røjkjær Andersen (photo: private)

Kasper Røjkjær Andersen leads a research group at Aarhus University investigating how plants and microbes communicate. Their goal is to understand the various ways in which plants and microbes interact at the biochemical and molecular level. A major focus is on how plant cell-surface receptors perceive microbial signals and how this enables them to engage in symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria and phosphate-accruing fungi, while at the same time fight off pathogenic microbes.

The long-term goal is to expand our fundamental knowledge of how plants and microbes interact and how we can use this to develop new solutions and products to aid in the green transition and future sustainable agriculture. The research group utilizes advanced techniques to study the structure and function of proteins crucial for these interactions. They try to uncover the molecular innovations that enabled plants (100 million years ago) to evolve the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis out from the more ancient (450 million years ago) arbuscular mycorrhizal symbiosis. 

Kasper Røjkjær Andersen - brief biography

Kasper Røjkjær Andersen received his PhD from Aarhus University in 2009 under the supervision of Professor Ditlev Brodersen, studying detailed mechanisms of mRNA turnover. He was then a postdoc at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, USA working on the structure and function of the Nuclear Pore Complex in the group of Professor Thomas Schwartz.

In 2014, he returned to Denmark and Aarhus University and set up his research group centered on understanding how plants form symbiosis with beneficial bacteria and fungi. He has contributed discoveries to the field of plant-microbe biology and especially on the molecular details of how the EPR3, NFR1, NFR5, and SYMRK receptors control symbiosis.

Kasper was one of the pioneers that brought nanobody technologies to Denmark, and his group has since developed many nanobody-based solutions to explore how plant receptors work at the molecular level. One of the major discoveries was that nanobodies could be used to modulate plant signaling and elucidate the receptor complex controlling symbiotic signaling.

Kasper is a partner in the ENSA program that aims to engineer nitrogen-fixing symbiosis into non-legumes such as cereals and cassava. ENSA is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Bill and Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovation. He is also a partner of the InROOT and N2CROP programs funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation that aim to develop a sustainable agriculture food systems.

More information

Professor Kasper Røjkjær Andersen - kra@mbg.au.dk
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Aarhus University, Denmark