Petri dishes with cultures


Students extracting RNA
Students extracting RNA from plant tissue

Welcome to the Field of Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology, which is managed by the Section of Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology in the School of Integrative Plant Sciences at Cornell University.

From our beginnings as one of the first departments of plant pathology in the country, our tradition of excellence has centered on training graduate students for leadership in the field.  As a graduate student in our Department, you will be part of this extraordinary legacy.

We invite you to explore our three program concentrations

Or browse our faculty profiles to see where you would fit into our team.

Graduate Student Research Spotlight

Kiersten (Bekoscke) Tancos

Kiersten Bekoscke Tancos

Kiersten (Bekoscke) Tancos

My research focuses on Erwinia amylovora, the causal agent of fire blight in apple and pear, and resistance of this bacterium to streptomycin. Streptomycin is the most effective and widely used control for fire blight, however due to emerging resistance this antibiotic is no longer effective in many areas in the western United States and parts of Michigan. The first report of streptomycin resistance in New York was published in 2002. Since this outbreak routine surveys have been conducted to observe and manage subsequent outbreaks. Streptomycin resistant E. amylovora were not observed again until 2011, 2012, and 2013. My objectives are to characterize these bacteria and investigate the spread of these bacteria using a CRISPR based strain-tracking approach. I also plan to investigate how streptomycin applications shift the resistant pathogen population and other epiphytic bacteria populations, and how nutritional inputs affect the emergence of fire blight in newly planned orchards.