UVA Biology People Danna

Cristian Danna

Assistant Professor of Biology
212 PLSB
(434) 374-1128


  • B.S. in Genetics, University of Misiones, Argentina - 1997
  • Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of San Martin, Argentina - 2003

Research Interests

Humans have survived microbial diseases by means of an effective adaptive immune system that produces antibodies, massive relocations to germ-free areas, and in the past century by using antibiotics.

Did you ever wonder how plants, that spend their entire lives in the exact place were they are born, manage to be healthy even when they are surrounded by large numbers of potentially dangerous microbes present in the soil, the air, and the surrounding environment? Our lab studies the mechanisms that allow plants to fend off most microbes as well as the mechanisms that allow a few pathogenic microorganisms to infect plants.

It is known that the first line of host defense against microbes is mediated by membrane receptors of the innate immune system. These receptors recognize conserved molecules that are unique to microbes. The perception of these molecules triggers the onset of defense responses that allow plants to restrict microbial growth. The mechanisms by which plants execute the suppression of microbial growth are largely unknown. In our lab we take several approaches to elucidate these mechanisms, including functional genomics, genetics, transcriptomics, chemistry and cell biology. We ultimately aim at understanding how plants manage to stay healthy even when they are surrounded and constantly challenged by microbes.

Representative Publications:

  • Cristian H. Danna, Xue-Cheng Zhang, Ashok Khatri, Andrew F. Bent, Pamela C. Ronald, and Frederick M. Ausubel. (2012). "FLS2-Mediated Responses to Ax21-Derived Peptides: Response to the Mueller et al. Commentary”. The Plant Cell, 8:3174-6.
  • Youli Yao*, Cristian H. Danna*, Frederick M. Ausubel, Igor Kovalchuk. Perception of volatiles produced by UVC-irradiated plants alters the response to viral infection in naïve neighboring plants”.  Plant Signal Behavior, 7: 1-5.  *co-first author.
  • Youli Yao*, Cristian H. Danna*, Franz J. Zemp, Viktor Titov, Ozan Ciftci, Roman Przybylski, Frederick M. Ausubel, Igor Kovalchuk. (2011). “UV-C irradiated plants emit volatiles that trigger genomic instability in neighboring plants”. The Plant Cell, 10:3842-52.  *co-first author.  
  • Cristian H. Danna, Yves A. Millet, Teresa Koller, Sang-Wook Han, Andrew F. Bent, Pamela C. Ronald, and Frederick M. Ausubel. (2011). “The Arabidopsis flagellin receptor FLS2 mediates the perception of Xanthomonas Ax21 secreted peptides.”  Proc.Nat.Acad.Sc.USA, 108 (22) 9286-9291.
  • Yves A. Millet, Cristian H. Danna, Nicole K. Clay, Wisuwat Songnuan, Matthew D. Simon, Daniele Werck-Reichhart, and Frederick M. Ausubel. (2010). “Innate Immune Responses Activated in Arabidopsis Roots by Microbe-Associated Molecular Patterns.”  The Plant Cell, 22: 973-990 (among the 100 most-read articles in THE PLANT CELL journal in the past 20 years).