Our research centers on the evolution of plant genomes, with a special emphasis on disease resistance and symbiotic genes of legumes. We are focusing on genomic analysis of the model legume, Medicago truncatula, as well as the important crop, soybean, using the tools of DNA sequencing and bioinformatics. Currently, much of our effort is concentrated on the sequencing (and re-sequencing) of the Medicago genome, a project that involves the participation of hundreds of scientists worldwide. We are expanding this work to create a Medicago "Hapmap", which will enable high resolution mapping of important biological traits, including genes responsible for legume-rhizobium symbiosis and nitrogen fixation. The outcome of these projects, a high quality genome sequence and genome-wide association mapping tool for legumes, will be an especially valuable resource for crop improvement. Using a range of bioinformatic and genomic tools, we target genome regions rich in genes controlling plant-microbe interactions in order to learn more about their molecular diversity and evolutionary history. This information will be useful in basic research, in helping to reveal the mechanisms that plants use to defend and cooperate with microbes, and in applied research, by providing breeders with better tools for creating improved crop varieties.

Research Areas:

  • Medicago Hapmap: Platform for genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of quantitative traits, including symbiosis
  • Sequencing the genome of the model legume, Medicago truncatula
  • Bioinformatic analysis of the Medicago genome sequence
  • Mapping and cloning of plant disease resistance genes, with a special emphasis on soybean and Medicago
  • Characterizing the molecular evolution of plant disease resistance genes
  • Developing resources for positional gene cloning in M. truncatula and soybean
  • Marker-assisted plant breeding for improved disease resistance in soybean