Our mission is to conduct research and provide academic training on the biology and ecology of insect-transmitted plant pathogens. We believe that it is possible to concurrently develop novel research ideas and concepts and generate results that are relevant to disease-impacted stakeholders.
Our research tools and approaches range from field experiments and disease surveys to greenhouse experimental manipulations, as well as the functional characterization of pathogen genes involved in pathogen-vector-plant interactions and studies on pathogen diversity and evolution. This holistic approach, in our view, is necessary to successfully integrate fundamental science findings and translate that knowledge into real-world practical solutions; in other words, we attempt to bridge fundamental and applied sciences to address current and emerging disease problems.
As model systems we use plant diseases and pathogens of importance to California that are also important to other regions of the USA and world. Currently we focus on two groups of pathogens, the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, which causes disease in various hosts such as grapevines, almonds, citrus, and coffee, and the viral complex associated with grapevine leafroll disease.