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K-State Today

September 4, 2018

Plant pathology researcher attains $700,000 NIFA grant to study bacterial disease in corn

Submitted by Diana Pavlisko

Kansas State University, under the lead of Sanzhen Liu, has been awarded funds to study the genetic basis of resistance to bacterial disease in corn by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The goal of the research is to understand the basis of disease and enable the development of improved corn varieties for Goss’s wilt resistance.

Liu, assistant professor of plant pathology at K-State, is the principal investigator for the three-year $700,000 research grant. He will also work with Professors Frank White from the University of Florida and Alison Robertson from Iowa State University.

The bacterial disease called Goss’s wilt has re-emerged in major corn-producing areas of the United States and Canada and represents a threat to maize production. Researchers on this project will pinpoint genetic elements responsible for bacterial virulence and host resistance through genetic approaches. The research will provide implications for other important, yet poorly understood, plant diseases caused by closely related bacteria, including tomato canker and potato ring rot.

At K-State, Liu will also provide a research opportunity to students who are eligible to participate in the Kansas Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, or KS-LSAMP, through working with the director of the Diversity Programs Office at K-State.

The project, "Analyses of Bacterial Avirulence and Virulence Loci and Host Resistance of Maize Goss's Wilt," was awarded by the USDA through the NSF/NIFA Plant-Biotic Interactions program.

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