What do we do?

Plants encounter a multitude of microorganisms during a growing season. These microorganisms can either promote or impede plant growth. The outcome of the interaction can vary and is determined by the host plant and the multitudes of microbes that live in concert with the plant. Dissecting the interaction between plant and microorganisms can lead to enhanced disease management and ultimately better yields. I study how major crops resist pathogen infection, the arsenal that fungal pathogens deploy to cause disease, and the impact that pathogens and beneficial organisms have on yield.  In my laboratory, we use quantitative PCR, microscopy, and high-throughput field assays to characterize the phenotypic interactions; and microbiome sequencing, RNAseq, and genetics to identify the factors involved in the interactions. This research will advance our understanding of disease development and generate efficient disease control methods. Current projects in the lab include:

 

  • Identify and characterize pathogenesis genes encoded by the Fusarium Head Blight pathogen on wheat.
  • Develop high-throughput methods for soybean pathogen detection and quantification.
  • Survey the diversity of Phytophthora species causing root rot on soybeans.
  • Quantify the yield reduction effects of multiple soybean-associated organisms.