Black Sigatoka

Suchitra Chavan – Postdoctoral Associate

Suchitra Chavan received her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Georgia, Athens. Her Ph.D. research, conducted under the guidance of Dr. Shavannor Smith, involved studies of expression profiling and resistance to Ustilago maydis in maize and teosinte. Prior to arriving in the US for her Ph.D., she obtained her Masters in Biochemistry and Bachelors in Chemistry from the University of Pune, India. Her current research focuses on Mycosphaerella fijiensis, an Ascomycete fungus that caused black Sigatoka disease on bananas. Four undergraduate Global Plant Health scholars (Laura Bostic, Jessica Pope, Mary Lewis and Meghan Wyatt) collected over 130 isolates of Mycopsharella fijiensis from plantations in Costa Rica and native grown bananas and began molecular characterization of the isolates. Multilocus genotyping is underway to examine the population structure of the pathogen in Costa Rica and its relationship to global populations of the pathogen. We are also examining the impact of disease management strategies on ecosystem services.

Ms. Roslyn Noar joined our graduate program as a Dole Fellow in June 2010. Roslyn received her B.S. degree in Biology and Genetics from Cornell University in 2007 and spent three years at the Boyce Thompson Institute conducting research on plant-mycorrhizal interactions. Her Ph.D. thesis work (under the direction of Dr. Margo Daub) is focused on defining and characterizing gene-encoding pathways for photoactivated toxins in Mycosphaerella fijiensis, which we hypothesize play a critical role in black Sigatoka disease development.

 Funding sources:

Ristaino, J. B. and Daub, M, 2009. A proposal for a DOLE Graduate Research Fellowship for Black Sigatoka Research in Central America.

Ristaino, J. B. and Daub, M. E.  2011.  A IRES in Tropical Plant Pathology for NC State.  NSF IRES, $149,000.

Ristaino, J. B. and Hanley-Bowdoin, Linda.  2011.  Ecosystem Services and emerging infectious plant disease in East Africa.  National Academy Keck Futures Initiative. $75,000.