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 Department of Plant Pathology & Plant-Microbe Biology 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

Ellen Crocker

Ellen Crocker

Ellen Crocker

I am interested in how plant pathogens shape plant community dynamics in natural ecosystems, particularly with regards to the success of invasive plants. By studying how pathogen community dynamics contribute to plant-soil feedbacks and apparent competition between plant species I hope to increase knowledge of what makes invasive plant species so successful. My research focuses on marsh wetland systems, which are highly dominated by invasive plant species such as Common reed (Phragmites australis), Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).   To better understand if pathogens are playing a role in invasive success in this system I am comparing: the oomycete communities associated with native and invasive plants the pathogenicity and virulence of these oomycetes (predominantly Pythium species) overwintering seed viability of native and invasive plants and the effects of various fungicide treatments overall soil conditioning effects of native and invasive plants, looking at plant-soil feedbacks and impacts on the soil microbial community