Cornell University

“Genetic resistance to fire blight and apple scab for improved and sustainable productivity of apple orchards”: Awais Khan

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 at 12:20pm

Plant Science Building, 404

Awais Khan
Associate Professor, Plant Pathology Plant-Microbe Biology Section

I joined Cornell University, Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section, as an associate professor in October 2016. Prior to taking this position, I was leading a global research program on genetics of adaptation and abiotic stress tolerance, at the International Potato Center (CIP), Lima, Peru. I earned a PhD from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland on fire blight of apples, and an MSc from Georg-August University, Gottingen, Germany, with further research experience at the University of York, UK and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA.

Research Focus My research focus is to characterize mechanisms of disease resistance and pathogenesis, strategies and tools for accelerated and targeted improvement of disease resistance in rosaceous fruits and to develop high-throughput methods for plant resistance phenotyping. We use quantitative genetics, QTL and association mapping, genomics, transcriptomics and bioinformatics to detect genetic regions and candidate genes controlling resistance to fungal and bacterial diseases such as fire blight and apple scab. We also identify molecular markers tightly linked with QTLs and develop multiplexed marker assays to deploy multiple resistance alleles in commercially favored backgrounds through marker-assisted selection. Significant efforts are devoted into fine mapping and genome editing for gene discovery, validation and to develop varieties with improved disease resistance. One of our research interests is to develop high-throughput resistance phenotyping methods to visualize, quantify and assess the severity of disease, and differences in response between plants in terms of symptoms and progress rate. For example, we are developing real-time imaging and analytical methods to monitor progress of fire blight infection, with concurrent sampling of transcripts and the metabolome to identify specific spatio-temporal mechanisms at genetic, cellular, and molecular levels.


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Tara Reed

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Awais Kahn

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Cornell University

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