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Molecular Characterization of Plant-microbe Interactions

Principal Investigator/Project Leader: 
Co-Principal Investigator/Co-Project Leader: 
Department of Project: 
Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Dept.
Project Description: 

Plant diseases cause crop loss, reduce food production and threaten global food security (Savary et al., 2012). Focusing on two distinct pathosystems that cause Fusarium vascular wilts and the Basil downy mildew (BDM), respectively, we propose to establish a pipeline to dissect host-pathogen interactions and provide novel means to develop disease resistant cultivars in order to manage plant diseases that threaten food security. Fusarium oxysporum species complex can cause vascular wilt on over 100 cultivated plant species (Beckman 1987, Moore et al. 2001), including the notorious Panama disease that nearly eliminated banana production during a 1950s outbreak (Koenig et al., 1997; Stover, 1972; Waite and Stover, 1960). Today, Panama disease remains one of the major diseases of banana worldwide (Fourie et al., 2011; Ploetz, 2006a, b). Because of its significance, F. oxysporumis listed among the top 10 fungal pathogens by the journal "Molecular Plant Pathology" (Dean et al., 2012). In Massachusetts and New England area, wilt diseases caused by Fusarium oxysporumare common agricultural problems that affect the production of vegetables, including asparagus, tomatoes, eggplant, ornamentals, and variety of flowers (Elmer WH and Ferandino FJ, 2009). Widespread resistance to existing fungicides and the persistence of thick-walled fungal clamidospores in the soil compound the difficulty of controlling these diseases and emphasizing the importance of appropriate control measures.

Agriculture topics: