Genna Tesdall

  • M.S. Student
  • Plant Pathology, International Agriculture and Development
  • Advised by: Dr. María del Mar Jiménez Gasco
Genna Tesdall
301 Buckhout Lab (office)
403 Buckhout Lab (lab)

University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-863-2495
Fax: 814-863-7217

Connect with Genna Tesdall



  1. B.S. Biology, Iowa State University (2015)
  2. B.S. Global Resource Systems, Iowa State University (2015)

For my master thesis, I study the causal agent of Panama disease, Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense (Foc), a soil-borne fungal pathogen that causes vascular wilt of bananas. Banana is a staple food crop for South East Asia, Africa, and the Americas; as such, banana is a key crop to focus on yield increase and protection, especially in the face of Panama disease, which threatens livelihoods worldwide. To create sustainable solutions to Panama disease, scientists must understand the mechanism of pathogenicity. Using the gene-for-gene concept of host-pathogen interactions, scientists have searched for putative pathogenicity genes and their associated effector proteins. The F. oxysporum species complex is known to cause disease to over 100 hosts, and F. oxysproum f. sp. lycopercisi (Fol) has been used as a model system for the discovery of Secreted In Xylem (SIX) genes. After being found in Fol, sequences homologous to Fol SIX genes were detected in other formae speciales, including Foc. However, SIX genes have been detected in non-pathogenic isolates from soil and asymptomatic plants. This leads us to my research on the true role of SIX genes in F. oxysporum-plant interactions.  In my research, I am interested in the role of SIX9 in host pathogenicity and colonization based on the presence of SIX9 in pathogenic, endophytic, and soil isolates.

Complimentary to research, I am fascinated the global agricultural system. I am passionate about bridging the gap between science, public, and policy, and I am always interested in improving agricultural organizations to use science as a tool for improving livelihoods.

Before my master study, I gained experience in research at Iowa State University, the CGIAR International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru, and the USDA North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station. I have extensive international experience from my time as World President of the NGO International Association of Agriculture and Related Sciences Students (IAAS), interning and working at CIP, and studying at the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany.