Plants are in constant contact with microbes that utilize diverse mechanisms of attack. To protect themselves plants have evolved layers of defense that encompass diverse mechanisms of resistance and are shaped by the evolutionary dynamics between the plant and the microbe.
We focus on host-microbe interactions in maize. The goal of my program is to mine genetic variation for disease resistance and understand how those genes are functioning in the plant and influencing the interaction.
We study a diversity of maize pathogens and are taking a multi-faceted approach utilizing genetics, genomics, molecular biology, and evolutionary biology to understand the interaction between host and microbe. Students and professionals will explore questions related to host-microbe interactions and develop a variety of skills related to these approaches.
Ultimately exploiting genetic variation and understanding the governing mechanisms will lead to the development of more resistant varieties.