Ecology and Evolution of Wheat Pathogens
We are currently investigating the population genetics and epidemiology of strip rust (Puccinia striiformis) in the central plains. Our main objective is to update epidemiological models specific for the central plains as well as understand how stripe rust population are shaped both geographically and temporally, and then utilize this information to develop more informed management strategies.
Viruses are also a yield limiting pathogen of wheat in the central plains and our lab is currently investigating the epidemiology and ecology of several viruses infecting wheat in Colorado and other states in the central plains.
The phytobiome can be best described as the extended phenotype of the host including the entire microbial community (bacteria, acheae, fungi, oomycetes, viruses, and nematodes) in, on, and adjacent to plants. The first aim of this project is to document the fungal and bacterial diversity of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) phytobiome. More importantly we are also investigating the effect the domestication process has on the associated microbiome of a host species. We hypothesize that the act of translocating a species out of its center of origin results in important alterations in the composition of its associated microbiome and may have a detrimental affect on the plants ability to buffer biotic and abiotic stress.
This project has two aspect. The first focuses on the coevolution of wheat and it’s associated microbiome. Common Bread Wheat (Triticum aestivum) is a hexaploid species comprised of the genome from two other species T. turgidum (tetraploid) and Aegilops tauschii (diploid). We are investigating the effect hybridization and domestication has had on the rhizosphere, root and foliar micro biomes. In addition, we are evaluating ancestral diploid Triticum and Aegoliops spp. for the presence of uniques bacteria and fungi that could be used to buffer abiotic and biotic stress in common bread wheat.
The second aspect of the project focuses on the effect different production strategies (crop rotation, cover crop, fallowing, etc.) have on the soil microbiome and how this alter the productivity of the wheat crop
Population Biology of Soilborne Pathogens
There are number of soilborne pathogens of common bean, sugar beet and wheat in Colorado. Research in our lab focuses on understanding the ecology of seed and root rot disease caused by species of Pythium, Rhizocotonia and Fusarium, and utilizing this information to improve disease management strategies.
White Pine Needle Damage (WPND)
Concern over WPND has expanded to an international level as important pine growing regions including the U.S.A, Canada, and Europe have been affected by this problem. We have initiated collaborations with researchers in these respective regions to characterize the fungi responsible for this damage and developed detection methods to identify these pathogens.In addition to brown spot caused by Lecanosticta acicola (syn. Mycosphaerella dearnessii), several other species of fungi have been isolated from diseased pine needles at a high frequency and represent novel pathogens on white pine that have yet to be described. This project seeks to document the diversity of fungi infecting eastern white pine across the northeast and evaluate the interaction between climate change – pathogen population dynamics – and eastern white pine health. Funding provided by the USFS-Forest Health Monitoring Program