Plant disease epidemiology; host plant resistance; population genetics of plant pathogens; effects of plant genetic diversity on disease and productivity; sustainable agriculture.
Successes in breeding disease-resistant crops have often been countered by the ability of plant pathogen populations to evolve greater virulence. My research program focuses on development of strategies to increase the durability of host plant resistance. Specific interests include studying the influence of host genetic diversity on plant disease epidemics and using quantitative and population genetic approaches to analyze host-parasite interactions. The program has both basic and applied objectives, and utilizes a variety of methodologies including field experiments, controlled environment studies, and computational approaches.
A major, current project uses wheat stripe rust as a model for studying invasive plant, animal, and human pathogens that spread via long-distance dispersal. Questions being addressed include issues of spatial scaling, effects of landscape heterogeneity, and influence of initial epidemic conditions on disease spread. This project involves large-scale field experiments and a variety of computational approaches.
A second major project is in collaboration with cereal breeding colleagues. This project seeks to use QTL analyses to elucidate genetics of resistance to several diseases of complex inheritance, and to develop molecular breeding strategies for cereal diseases of importance in the Pacific Northwest.
Faculty Research Assistants/Associates