Dr. Steven A Whitham
Our research is centered on an interest in the molecular mechanisms that underlie viral and fungal pathogenicity as well as plant defense against these organisms. Our research projects involve studies the important row crop plants, soybean and corn, and we also utilize model host plants such as Arabidopsis thaliana and Nicotiana benthamiana. We use functional genomics approaches to study the molecular changes that occur in susceptible and resistant genotypes of crop and model plant species. The plant and pathogen genes identified in these studies are providing insight into ways in which successful pathogens interact with and manipulate their hosts and by which plants deploy defense mechanisms. The three major research areas are aimed at 1) identifying genes that determine the outcome of host-virus interactions, 2) developing and applying tools based on viral vectors to assess gene function in crop plants, and 3) the molecular interactions of soybean and soybean rust (Phakopsora pachyrhizi).