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Faculty Labs

Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology faculty have a strong commitment to collaborative research efforts with other departments, institutes, colleges, universities, and nations and to providing leadership in interdisciplinary research and education through intercollegiate programs.

Our lab applies a variety of techniques, including high-throughput sequencing approaches, to understand how the manipulation of environmental microbiomes affects soil function and plant growth.

Members of the Bull Lab

The focus of our research is Translational Taxonomy of Bacterial Plant Pathogens. We use taxonomic inquiry to develop management strategies for bacterial diseases of plants and cultivated mushrooms. Management strategies include biological control, host plant resistance, inoculum detection and management, and changes crop production practices (e.g., crop rotation).

The goal of our adaptive research and extension program is to develop integrated management strategies for important and emerging diseases of the major vegetable crops grown in Pennsylvania.

My research program focuses on how organismal and molecular interactions affect the ecology and evolution of plant-associated microorganisms. I utilize bacteriocin-mediated interactions within the important plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae as my model system.

In my program we study the population-level processes that lead to the evolution of plant pathogenicity, virulence, and the emergence of fungicide and antibiotic resistance in microbial populations. We use molecular tools to study these processes within a population biology approach that connects population genetics and epidemiology.

Fusarium Head Scab on Wheat, note orange-colored patches of fungal sporulation on bleached florets.

The Kuldau lab merges lab, chamber, and field studies using observational, molecular, and chromatographic methods to research mycotoxin problems in food and forage.

Front L-R: Tony Stobbe, Juan José López-Moya, Serge Ouédraogo; Back L-R: Vaskar Thapa, Mahtab Peyambari, Marilyn Roossinck, Maliheh Safari, Edelio Bazán | Image: Nancy Wenner, Penn State University

The Roossinck lab has long been fascinated by the evolution and ecology of RNA viruses. Using Cucumber mosaic virus as a model system for experimental evolution, we have studied various aspects of virus evolution including population structures, bottlenecks during systemic infection and transmission, and recombination frequencies. We have also studied the biodiversity of viruses in wild plants, and this research led to the realization that although almost all of the well-characterized plant viruses have an acute lifestyle, persistent viruses are more common and found in many plants, including many crop plants.

(L-R): Dr. Cristina Rosa, Natali Ozber, Asifa Hameed, Andrew May, Kevin Cassidy, Kaixi Zhao, Dr. Paolo Margaria, and Joseph Walls.

In our program we employ a variety of techniques to understand the fundamentals of plant virology and to predict changes in disease dynamics under the pressure of climate change and globalization.