Research Profiles​​

Research Emphasis: to understand and solve fundamental and applied problems in plant and fungal growth and development, and disease and weed management in crop production systems. Research programs cover a broad range, including virology, plant and fungal biochemistry, molecular biology, cell and developmental biology, physiology, genetic engineering of crop plants, plant-microbe interactions, disease management, aquatic biology, and integrated weed management.

Faculty Research Profiles: are listed below grouped by discipline. You will learn what is the primary focus of each faculty's research program and are encouraged to contact them if you are interested in collaboration or graduate studies. Visit their faculty page for more details about their research, teaching, and publications.

Plant Biology | Plant Pathology | Weed Science


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Description
Dr. Jody Banks, ProfessorJody BanksPlant Molecular and Developmental Biology
My research at Purdue focused on two questions. How is the fern Pteris vittata able to tolerate and hyperaccumulate arsenic in its fronds, and how is the sex of the Ceratopteris richardii gametophyte regulated?
Leonor BoavidaLeonor BoavidaPlant Cell and Developmental Biology
Dr. Boavida’s lab investigates the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate one of the most impressive examples of cell-cell recognition in plant reproduction, the process of fertilization. Fertilization is defined by the fusion of two haploid sex cells or gametes, the sperm and egg which produce a diploid zygote that initiates a very sophisticated developmental program. But this definition does not capture the full scope of cellular events that evolved as a hallmark of flowering plants: the occurrence of two separate gametic fusions (double fertilization). In addition to the sperm-egg cell fusion, a second sperm fuse with a sister female gamete, the central cell to produce the endosperm whose function is to nurture the developing embryo within the seed. This means that flowering plants likely evolved a new signal transduction machinery to ensure a robust recognition between male and female gametes. However, for the majority of these signaling pathways, the function and the interactions of the molecular intermediates remain to be characterized. Our attention is currently focused on the function of Tetraspanins as scaffolding proteins, and other transmembrane partners that have been identified in the surface of plant gametes as potential mediators of gamete interactions. Our goal is to build a comprehensive “fertilization interactome” that will allow us not only to have a better understanding of gamete factors and signaling pathways controlling reproductive success, but also to quiz the network concerning evolutionary aspects of the fertilization process. The lab incorporates unique experimental tools in the research field using genetic, molecular, functional genomics and live cell imaging.
Dr. Nick Carpita, ProfessorNicholas CarpitaPlant Cell Biology
Dr. Nick Carpita’s research objectives are to characterize the structural and functional architecture of the plant cell wall, to understand the biochemical mechanisms of biosynthesis of its polysaccharides, and to identify the genes that encode the molecular machinery that synthesizes these components. Specific projects include identifying and characterizing cell wall mutants in Arabidopsis and maize by Fourier transform infrared spectra. Potential mutants identified by this novel spectroscopic method are characterized genetically to determine heritability. A systematic protocol was devised to use biochemical, cytological, and spectroscopic methods to characterize the function of cell-wall biogenesis-related genes in Arabidopsis and maize identified through the mutant screen. Dr. Carpita’s group is classifying mutants by artificial neural networks as a database to classify genes of unknown function. They also develop methods to investigate the biosynthesis and topology of cellulose and the mixed-linkage (1→3),(1→4)-β-D-glucan in maize. They use proteomic and immunological approaches to identify the catalytic machinery and its associated polypeptides. We have also begun a program to characterize the regulation by microRNAs and naturally occurring small interfering RNAs of cellulose synthases and suites of similarly regulated genes in networks that form primary and secondary walls. Finally, we desire to apply our knowledge of cell wall biology to solve practical problems in agriculture. Understanding wall composition and architecture and the regulation of the synthesis of its components is an essential tool in enhancing biomass quality and quantity for biofuel production.
Dr. Zhixiang Chen, ProfessorZhixiang ChenMolecular Plant-Pathogen Interactions
Dr. Zhixiang Chen’s research interests are in two related areas of molecular plant stress responses. The first area concerns transcriptional regulation of plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. The second research area deals with protein quality control, trafficking and degradation pathways including autophagy and multivesicular bodies in plant stress responses.
Dr. Peter Goldsbrough, Professor and HeadPeter GoldsbroughPlant Molecular Biology
Dr. Peter Goldsbrough’s research program is focused on two multigene families in Arabidopsis - metallothioneins (MTs) and glutathione S-transferases (GSTs).  Metallothioneins are small metal binding proteins encoded by a small gene family.  Recent studies with MT-deficient mutants indicates that MTs are involved in the accumulation of copper and zinc in various tissues including roots and shoots, and the redistribution of these metals during senescence and seed development.  The primary reaction catalyzed by GSTs is conjugation of glutzthione to a toxic substrate.  We have been studying how herbicide safeners induce the expression of GSTs and other components of the xenobiotic detoxification system, and how GSTs can be used to enhance herbicide tolerance in transgenic plants.
 
Dr. Goldsbrough is currently not accepting graduate students.
Dr. Anjali Iyer-PascuzziAnjali Iyer-PascuzziPlant Biology
Dr. Iyer-Pascuzzi’s research investigates the mechanisms that plant roots use to perceive and respond to the environment. There are two primary areas of research in the lab. The first is focused on understanding the molecular basis of plant resistance to bacterial wilt, caused by Ralstonia solanacearum. Ralstonia is a devastating soil-borne pathogen that first infects root systems. Despite the devastation it causes, little is known regarding the networks that underlie resistance or susceptibility, and root responses to R. solanacearum are unclear. Using both tomato and Arabidopsis, we focus on understanding resistance responses at three levels of root development: root cell types, root developmental stages, and root architecture. Current questions include, what are the spatio-temporal dynamics of pathogen invasion in resistant and susceptible genotypes? How are different root cell types and developmental stages affected by bacterial wilt? What are the gene regulatory networks involved in the response to bacterial wilt within each cell type? We use a combination of cell biology, genetics, and genomics approaches to address these questions. The major goal of this research is to identify novel forms of resistance to bacterial wilt. Our second area of research is centered around the role of Nodule Inception-Like Proteins (NLPs) in root development. NLP proteins are a unique family of transcription factors found in a wide diversity of plant species. We are studying the molecular mechanisms through which these proteins mediate root development and stress responses in Arabidopsis.
Dr. Guri Johal, Associate ProfessorGurmukh JohalMolecular Pathology and Genetics
Dr. Guri Johal’s interests and expertise are in maize pathology and genetics, and he is involved in three areas of research. The first concerns maize’s interaction with Cochliobolus carbonum, which causes a lethal leaf blight and ear mold disease. A key factor in this pathosystem is HC-toxin, a cyclic tetrapeptide, which is absolutely needed by the pathogen to colonize maize tissues. Exactly how HC-toxin evades maize defenses remains elusive, and unlocking this mystery using a combination of genetic, genomic and molecular approaches constitutes a major thrust of the Johal lab. Efforts include an investigation into the evolutionary origin of the Hm1 disease resistance gene. This gene evolved naturally in maize and it confers complete resistance to C. carbonum by inactivating HC-toxin. An allele of Hm1 confers adult plant resistance, as does the functional allele at the hm2 locus. Why and how these genes behave this way is also pursued. Dr. Johal’s second project concerns a class of mutations that are collectively known as disease lesion mimics (DLMs). These mutants are recognized by their ability to produce symptoms that mimic those that are normally produced during maize’s encounter with various pathogens. The Johal lab has contributed substantially in revealing the biological underpinnings some of these DLMs and is continuing to do so for more and more of these mutants. In addition, DLMs are being used as reporters to uncover natural variation capable of suppressing or enhancing their severity. The cloning and characterization of such natural variants are expected to provide valuable tools and targets for coping with a variety of stresses, both biotic and abiotic. The third project area concerns genes and mechanisms that impact the height and quality of the maize stalk. Again, the approach is to generate and/or identify natural mutants that compromise these stalk traits. The genes underlying these variants are then cloned either by transposon tagging or by map-based cloning approaches. Two recent accomplishments in this area include the cloning of the brittle stalk -2 (bk2) and brachytic-2 (br2) genes. While bk2 encodes a COBRA-like protein required to assemble secondary cell walls, br2 encodes a multidrug resistance protein involved in the polar movement of auxins from the top of the plant to the bottom. An ortholog of the br2 gene was shown to be defective in the sorghum dw3 mutant, which despite its instability has been used extensively in sorghum breeding programs. The molecular mechanism underlying dw3 instability and ways to correct it were also revealed.
Dr. Sharon KesslerSharon KesslerPlant Biology
The Kessler Lab studies the cell and molecular mechanisms that control pollination and seed yield in flowering plants.
Damon LischPlant Biology
I am interested in the regulation and evolution of plant transposable elements. Transposable elements, or transposons, are, by far, the most dynamic part of the eukaryotic genome, and the majority, often the vast majority, of plant genomes are composed of these genomic parasites. Although they are an important source of genetic novelty, transposons can also be a significant source of detrimental mutations. Because of this, plants (and indeed all eukaryotes) have evolved a sophisticated “immune system” whose function is to detect and epigenetically silence them. My research centers on determining the means by which transposons are detected and then maintained in a silenced state. To do this, the my lab has focused on MuDR, a transposon in maize that can be reliably and heritably silenced by a naturally occurring derivative of that element. In addition to its role in transposon control, epigenetic silencing is employed by plants and animals for a wide variety of other purposes, and epigenetic silencing pathways in plants are particularly diversified. However, whatever else they do, all of these pathways appear to be involved in transposon silencing as well, making transposons an excellent model for understanding how epigenetic information is encoded and propagated. Finally, transposon mobilization and subsequent silencing can have dramatic effects on the expression of plant genes. Current work in the my lab combines a detailed analysis of MuDR transposon silencing with a global analysis of the effects of transposon silencing on plant gene function and phenotypic variation.
Dr. Scott McAdamDr. Scott McAdamPlant Evolutionary Physiology
Evolution of drought tolerance and response in plants, from stomatal behavior to xylem physiology and hormones
Gordon McNicklePlant Ecology
Dr. McNickle's research investigates the strategies used by plants to acquire resources, how interactions among competitors, enemies and mutualistic partners alter these strategies, and how all of these interactions shape species coexistence and community structure - with an emphasis on below ground interactions.  Most ecological interactions take on all the essential features of a game, and most work in the lab relies on evolutionary game theory as a central tool to make predications about plant systems.  Dr. McNickle relies on a mixture of mathematical modeling to develop explicit hypotheses and field or greenhouse experiments as appropriate to test these hypotheses.
Dr. Tesfaye Mengiste, Associate ProfessorTesfaye MengisteMolecular Genetics of Plant Immunity to Fungal Pathogens
Research in Mengiste lab focuses on molecular-genetics of fungal resistance in model and crop plants.
Christopher OakleyEcological and evolutionary genetics of plants
The Oakley lab is broadly interested in the ecological and evolutionary genetics of plants.  One main focus of our research is the genetic basis of local adaptation.  Local genotypes are often found to grow, survive, and/or reproduce better than non-local genotypes, suggesting that adaptation to one environment is costly in other environments (fitness tradeoffs across environments).  Despite much empirical study, little is known about the mechanisms and genetic basis of local adaptation.  Using locally adapted populations of Arabidopsis thaliana from near the northern and southern edge of the native rage, we investigate the genetic basis of local adaptation, adaptive traits (e.g., freezing tolerance), and genetic tradeoffs (fitness tradeoffs attributable to individual loci).  We have developed a variety of genetic stocks that we use in field and growth chamber experiments in concert with genetic and genomic approaches.
 
A second main focus of our research is the consequences of genetic drift for adaptation and population persistence.  A number of factors common in natural populations (e.g., a history of population bottlenecks) can increase both the chance loss of beneficial mutations and the chance fixation of deleterious mutations.  Heterosis, the increased fitness in crosses between populations relative to fitness within populations, is thought to be due in part to the masking of these fixed deleterious recessive alleles in the heterozygous state.  We are investigating the geographic pattern and genetic basis of heterosis in natural populations of A. thaliana to study the balance between selection and genetic drift in nature.
Dr. Robert Pruitt, ProfessorRobert PruittPlant Molecular Biology
Bacterial interactions with plants, with a particular focus on human pathogens that contaminate fresh produce and how that affects food safety. The goals of this research are to understand how pathogenic bacteria are introduced into the plant system and what bacterial, plant and environmental factors allow them to survive and proliferate.
Dr. Christopher StaigerChristopher StaigerPlant Cell Biology
The Staiger lab uses state-of-the art imaging and quantitative cell biology approaches to investigate how a dynamic network of cytoskeletal filaments coordinates cell growth and response to phytopathogens.
Dr. Dan SzymanskiDan SzymanskiCell Biology
The use of multivariate live cell imaging and finite element computational modeling to discover how plant cells dynamically reorganize the cytoskeleton and the cell wall during cell morphogenesis. Another major project in the lab is the development of a proteomics pipeline that can be used to broadly discover and analyze protein complexes in both model and crop species.
Gyeongmee YoonPlant Biology
Dr. Yoon’s research focuses on unraveling the molecular mechanisms that control plant hormone ethylene function and its role in plant stress responses.
Chunhua Zhang
Chunhua Zhang’s lab uses a combination of chemical genetics and live cell imaging approaches to understand the mechanisms of plant vesicle trafficking.
Yun ZhouYun ZhouPlant Cell and Developmental Biology
We explore the cellular and molecular mechanisms in control of meristem development and stem cell homeostasis in Arabidopsis and in ferns, using both experimental and computational approaches.
  
  
  
Description
Dr. Cathie AimeCathie AimeMycology
The Aime Lab conducts research on the systematics, biodiversity, and evolution of Fungi focusing on: 1) the earliest diverging lineages of Basidiomycota (Pucciniomycotina, Ustilaginomycotina, and Wallemiomycetes); 2) rust fungi; 3) fungi in tropical ecosystems; and 4) fungal diseases of tropical tree crops. We apply a variety of tools and methods, from genomics to field studies in remote regions, to the study of these vastly underexplored Fungi. Dr. Aime is Director of the Purdue University Herbaria (Arthur Fungarium and Kriebel Herbarium).
Dr. Janna BeckermanJanna BeckermanOrnamental and Fruit Diseases
Dr. Beckerman’s primary responsibility at Purdue University is to lead the plant pathology extension education effort in horticultural crops by developing and enhancing a close working relationship between the University, extension educators, and members of the fruit and ornamentals industries. There are two major approaches to managing plant disease in horticultural crops: Incorporating disease resistance, when possible, and utilizing fungicides, when necessary. Research in the Beckerman lab focuses on developing environmentally sound disease management strategies that are economically feasible for Indiana growers of specialty crops, from apples to hemp to zinnia. The goal of her extension program is to enable commercial growers to effectively and sustainably manage both chemical (fungicide) and genetic (disease resistance) resources while protecting the environment
Guohong CaiPlant Pathology
Dr. Guohong Cai studies all aspects of soybean diseases. Current focus is on two diseases with serious economic consequences in the Mid-West region: Phytophthora root and stem rot and sudden death syndrome. Phytophthora root and stem rot is caused by two oomycete pathogens: Phytophthora sojae and P. sansomeana. Soybean death syndrome is caused by the fungus Fusarium virguliforme in North America. In South America, additional Fusarium species cause the same disease. Dr. Cai uses multi-faceted approach, from pathogen genomics, genetic, and population, their interaction with soybean, greenhouse and field screening, and microbiome to identify economically sound disease management strategies. Dr. Cai also coordinates the Northern Uniform Soybean Tests, which screen publically developed soybean lines in more than 10 states in Northern USA and provinces in Canada and at approximately 50 locations. These tests screen soybean lines for agronomic performance, disease resistance and quality traits. They provide the information required by public breeders to accurately assess a line’s ability to produce prior to its potential release, while eliminating the constraints of individually conducting trials in numerous locations and across multiple states.
Dr. Zhixiang Chen, ProfessorZhixiang ChenMolecular Plant-Pathogen Interactions
Dr. Zhixiang Chen’s research interests are in two related areas of molecular plant stress responses. The first area concerns transcriptional regulation of plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. The second research area deals with protein quality control, trafficking and degradation pathways including autophagy and multivesicular bodies in plant stress responses.
Dr. Christian CruzChristian CruzPlant Disease Management
Dr. Cruz’s interdisciplinary research focuses on the integration of fungal biology, ecology, and epidemiology for plant disease management. His specialties include plant pathology, crop protection, risk assessment, ecology, epidemiology, emerging diseases, and phenomics.
Dr. Stephen Goodwin, USDA ProfessorStephen GoodwinPlant Pathology
Dr. Steve Goodwin’s research is to understand the genetic bases of plant host-pathogen interactions, at both the molecular and population levels. This information will be used to increase the level of resistance in cereal crops to foliar diseases caused by fungi. Septoria tritici blotch of wheat, caused by Mycosphaerella graminicola (anamorph: Septoria tritici), is an economically important disease that occurs throughout the world. Goodwin has developed microsatellite markers for this fungus that can be used to analyze its population and evolutionary genetics in Indiana and surrounding states to reveal the primary sources of inoculum, the extent of gene flow among populations, and the modes of reproduction during epidemics. Recently, Goodwin worked with collaborators to obtain the complete genomic sequence of this fungus and that of its relative, the black Sigatoka pathogen, M. fijiensis, plus 40,000 EST sequences from M. fijiensis and the related maize pathogen Cercospora zeae-maydis. Work is now proceeding to annotate the nuclear and mitochondrial genome sequences of these pathogens. Comparative genomics analyses identified differences in the gene contents of organisms adapted to wheat versus non-wheat hosts and identified numerous targets for future research. Microarrays developed from the genomic sequences will be used to analyze gene expression under a variety of conditions. On the host side, five genes for resistance to Septoria tritici blotch were mapped in wheat and markers were identified that can be used for marker-assisted selection. Analysis of gene expression revealed that resistant wheat lines have early and late peaks of gene induction; the late peaks begin 14-16 days after inoculation and have not been reported in other hosts. Work is under way to understand the mechanisms of resistance and particularly of the late response. Populations are being developed to facilitate the eventual cloning and molecular characterization of wheat genes for resistance to this pathogen.
Dr. Anjali Iyer-PascuzziAnjali Iyer-PascuzziPlant Pathology
Dr. Iyer-Pascuzzi’s research investigates the mechanisms that plant roots use to perceive and respond to the environment. There are two primary areas of research in the lab. The first is focused on understanding the molecular basis of plant resistance to bacterial wilt, caused by Ralstonia solanacearum. Ralstonia is a devastating soil-borne pathogen that first infects root systems. Despite the devastation it causes, little is known regarding the networks that underlie resistance or susceptibility, and root responses to R. solanacearum are unclear. Using both tomato and Arabidopsis, we focus on understanding resistance responses at three levels of root development: root cell types, root developmental stages, and root architecture. Current questions include, what are the spatio-temporal dynamics of pathogen invasion in resistant and susceptible genotypes? How are different root cell types and developmental stages affected by bacterial wilt? What are the gene regulatory networks involved in the response to bacterial wilt within each cell type? We use a combination of cell biology, genetics, and genomics approaches to address these questions. The major goal of this research is to identify novel forms of resistance to bacterial wilt. Our second area of research is centered around the role of Nodule Inception-Like Proteins (NLPs) in root development. NLP proteins are a unique family of transcription factors found in a wide diversity of plant species. We are studying the molecular mechanisms through which these proteins mediate root development and stress responses in Arabidopsis.
Guri JohalGurmukh JohalMolecular Pathology and Genetics
There are two research foci of the Johal lab. The first is to explore mechanisms of disease and resistance in maize by employing real diseases, as well as a collection of mutants called disease lesion-mimic mutants. The second focus is to identify genes and genetic networks that regulate the architecture of the maize plant. A combination of genetic, genomic, molecular and physiological approaches is used for these explorations. In addition, the Johal lab is constantly in the hunt to improvise genetic tools needed to generate or detect agronomically important variation in diverse germplasms, both elite and natural.
Dr. Sue Loesch-FriesSue Loesch-FriesMolecular Virology
Dr.  Sue Loesch-Fries’ research is to determine the roles of virus genes in virus replication and in disease development, with the expectation that the results will lead to novel approaches for virus control. Loesch-Fries’ group works with alfalfa mosaic virus (AMV), an important pathogen of legumes, with focus on host and virus proteins involved in the formation of replicase complexes, which are factories where AMV RNAs are synthesized. The yeast two-hybrid system was used to identify proteins in susceptible Arabidopsis plants that are potential interaction partners of the virus proteins. These proteins and the virus proteins have been tagged with fluorescent markers such as the green fluorescent protein to determine protein-protein interactions and localization of host and virus proteins in infected cells by confocal microscopy.
Dr. Tesfaye Mengiste, Associate ProfessorTesfaye MengisteMolecular Genetics of Plant Immunity

Research in the Mengiste lab focuses on molecular mechanisms of plant responses to economically important fungal pathogens which reduce crop productivity worldwide. Critical genetic components of plant resistance are identified through genetic and genomic approaches in the model plant Arabidopsis, and two crop plants tomato and sorghum. By applying genetic, molecular, and biochemical approaches, we seek to determine how these key components regulate plant immune responses required for resistance. Molecular and biochemical mechanisms of tomato resistance are studied with a focus on the role of tomato receptor like kinases, and their substrates to shed light on tomato immune responses to broad host fungal pathogens. In parallel, attempts are made to translate some of the findings into genetic improvement of crops for disease resistance. In sorghum, the natural variation in the germplasm is being explored to identify genes or genomic regions that confer broad-spectrum resistance to anthracnose and grain mold diseases. The overarching goal is to expedite genetic improvement of sorghum to increase productivity in disease prone sorghum producing regions.

Current research areas • Arabidopsis immune response signaling, including the role of receptor kinases, transcription regulators and co-regulators, and chromatin modification in fungal and bacterial resistance.

• Molecular mechanisms of tomato resistance to fungal pathogens, with a focus on role of receptor like kinases, regulators of induced systemic resistance to gray mold disease caused by Botrytis cinerea and early blight caused by Alternaria solani.

• Genetic improvement of sorghum for resistance to fungal pathogens. Mechanisms of sorghum resistance to the parasitic weed Striga hermonthica.

Dr. Christopher StaigerChristopher StaigerHost-microbe interactions
Staiger's research leverages powerful genetic tools associated with the Arabidopsis-Pseudomonas pathosystem and combines these with advanced imaging and quantitative cell biology approaches to discover new signaling pathways associated with biotic stress.
dtelenkoDarcy TelenkoField Crop Pathology
Dr. Telenko conducts applied field crop pathology research to support her Extension responsibilities. She has an interdisciplinary plant pathology program involved in studying the biology, management, and distribution of field crop diseases and their potential impact on Indiana agriculture.
Charles WoloshukCharles WoloshukCorn/Mycotoxin Pathology
Dr. Charles Woloshuk’s research is focused on problems related to mycotoxins produced by phytopathogenic fungi of maize. Research on Fusarium verticillioides has led to the discovery of several genes that are important for fumonisin production during the colonization of maize kernels. One of these genes (FST1) impacts fumonisin production, fungal development, and pathogenicity. The hypothesis is that FST1 functions as an environmental sensor. The current focus of the research is to examine protein structure and function, and to discover other genes linked with FST1 expression. Woloshuk’s lab has investigated genes that are involved in aflatoxin production by Aspergillus flavus, also a pathogen of maize. Current research has focused on the molecular response of maize plants to heat and draught stresses prior to silking. The hypothesis is that there is a molecular signature in the maize leaves that correlates to kernel susceptibility and high aflatoxin contamination. Proving that this signature exists could lead to new management tools. Woloshuk’s lab also has sequenced and assembled a whole genomic database for Stenocarpella maydis. This resource is being used to study several mutant strains that were obtained by Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation (ATMT). The current focus of the research is on a gene that has sequence similarity to known histidine kinases. Woloshuk is also part of a collaborative research project on the Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) system. PICS consists of a low-cost bag system that creates a sealed barrier for store grain and results in a low-oxygen environment inside. Farmers in West and Central Africa are using PICS bags to control insect pests. Woloshuk’s research is to determine if the PICS system can prevent Aspergillus flavus growth and aflatoxin production during storage.
Dr. Jin-Rong XuJin-Rong XuFungal Biology
We work with Fusarium graminearum and Magnaporthe oryzae on the regulation of infection-related morphogenesis, fungal-plant interactions, secondary metabolism and sexual development. We are also interested in characterizing the mechanism of RNA editing and its relationship with other sexual stage-specific genetic and epigenetic phenomena.
Lei ZhangLei ZhangPlant-Nematode Interactions
Dr. Zhang’s lab is interested in studying molecular plant-nematode interactions in order to develop new tools for nematode management in agriculture. Plant-parasitic nematodes are microscopic soil-borne roundworms, they infect and damage plant roots causing annual crop losses valued at $80-$118 billion worldwide. With most of front-line nematicides being banned due to their extreme toxicity, it is urgent to develop new methods for nematode control. We focus on two groups of plant-parasitic nematodes: 1) Soybean cyst nematode (SCN), the most damaging pathogen of soybean in the US. We study distributions and virulence types of SCN populations on soybean fields in Indiana to provide information to growers for effective SCN management. We are also interested in developing new bio-control agents for SCN management. 2) Root-knot nematodes (RKN) cause serious problems in tomato and watermelon production in Indiana. We focus on studying RKN-secreted effector proteins. These effectors are secreted by nematodes to plant root cells. Our lab is interested in studying how nematode effectors manipulate plant processes during parasitism. We aim to develop crop resistance against RKNs by disrupting the molecular plant-nematode interactions using technologies such as genome editing and host-delivered RNAi.
  
  
  
Description
Dr. Kevin Gibson, Associate ProfessorKevin GibsonWeed Science
Dr. Kevin Gibson’s research has focused on the development of weed management systems that increase the competitive ability of crops, reduce the need for herbicide inputs, and provide sustainable weed control in agronomic and vegetable crops.  He is currently assessing alternative control strategies such as cover crops and intercropping to limit seed rain and reduce the need for herbicide use in vegetable crops.  Dr. Gibson is also interested in the distribution, abundance, and management of invasive plants.  He has conducted research on the population dynamics and management of garlic mustard, an exotic invader of forests, that suggests that garlic mustard establishment is highly dependent on early season emergence.
Dr. Bill JohnsonWilliam JohnsonWeed Science
Dr. Johnson conducts an applied Weed Science research program to support his Extension responsibilities. His research priorities vary and are defined by needs of the Indiana grain and forage producers and the industry that advises and serves that clientele.
Bryan YoungBryan YoungWeed Science
The primary goal of our lab is to provide a deeper understanding of herbicide efficacy and how to more efficiently utilize herbicides for weed management. This research includes the discovery and management of herbicide-resistant weed biotypes, leveraging knowledge of herbicide physiology to optimize herbicide activity, and mitigating off-target movement of herbicides.

Botany and Plant Pathology, 915 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4614

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