- Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, Committee on Genetics, Committee on Microbiology
Ph.D., Harvard University, 1989
BA, Barnard College, Columbia University, 1983
The University of Chicago
929 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Phone: (773) 834-1908
My long term interest is how organisms adapt to a changing environment. The study of plant-pathogenic bacterial interactions affords a rich variety of events in which to address this problem. On the pathogen side, bacteria must adapt to the host environment, overcoming natural barriers and inducible defenses to successfully colonize and later disseminate (transmit) to new hosts. On the host side, the plant must detect the invading pathogen and activate local responses that can include programmed cell death (PCD) to contain the infection. In some cases, the host response to local infection involves long distance signaling that enables the plant to mount a faster and stronger response to secondary infections, a phenomenon called systemic acquired resistance (SAR). Plants also have mechanisms to modulate responses to infection to avoid excessive activation of responses that could have an adverse fitness cost. My research has focused on three areas: (1) pathogenic effector roles and mechanisms, (2) plant signaling mechanisms (local and long distance) and (3) plant PCD modulation and mechanisms. We study the pathogenic bacteria Pseudomonas syringae and Ralstonia solanacaerum and their interactions with multiple plant hosts, including Arabidopsis thaliana, Nicotiana benthamiana, tomato, lettuce and potato.