Research Projects

Main Research Areas

1) Utilizing novel diagnostic methods to detect plant pathogens

The laboratory is interested in a variety of diagnostic techniques for various plant pathogens including quantitative PCR, and isothermal techniques (e.g. recombinase polymerase amplification). Currently in the laboratory, we are researching novel diagnostic tools to detect small fruit and hop pathogens as well as the feasibility of adapting these technologies to the field.

2) Investigating fungicide resistance in various fungi and oomycetes

We are also interested in the molecular diagnostics of fungicide resistance, from the identification of novel fungicide resistant alleles to quantifying the amount of these alleles in a large population of isolates. In this area, we are currently developing novel diagnostic tools and are collaborating with other researchers in the U. S. to implement the techniques.

3) Genomics and transcriptomics of various economically important plant pathogens

The laboratory is actively involved in collecting genomic and transcriptomic data from a variety of fungal organisms with the hopes of exploiting these for diagnostic purposes. Furthermore, we would like to understand some basic questions about genomics, such as how fungal genomes evolve.

4) Plant pathogen disease complexes in fruit pathosystems

Members of the laboratory have previously worked on host resistance in blueberry pathosystems. Fruits can be affected by a number of different postharvest pathogens and there are complex processes governing these interactions. To that end, the laboratory is extremely interested in understanding the microbial ecology of fruit surfaces and how these surfaces change in response to various environmental stimuli.

5) Small fruit and hop disease management research

Many plant diseases are controlled by the prophylactic use of fungicide products. In small fruit and hop production systems, more than 80% of fungicides used target foliar diseases and fruit rot related issues. Without the application of fungicides there would be significant economic losses in crop yield and quality. The laboratory regularly aids private companies and Michigan commodity groups in obtaining fungicide efficacy data for important diseases. These data are essential for 1) product registration and 2) management recommendations.