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

Amara Dunn

Amara Dunn

Amara Dunn

I am interested in diseases of vegetable crops and helping growers to manage these diseases better. The oomycete Phytophthora capsici causes Phytophthora blight on cucurbits, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and beans, sometimes resulting in severe losses in New York State, especially during warm, wet growing seasons. More knowledge about the biology and populations of P. capsici affecting growers in New York State will lead to better recommendations for control of this disease. As part of my M.S. thesis research, I characterized the New York State P. capsici population using microsatellite markers. Now I am using these markers to investigate changes in population structure over time in a research field where an overwintering and sexually-reproducing P. capsici population was founded by two single-spore isolates in 2008. I am also involved in annual field trials to screen for resistance to Phytophthora blight in commercially-available pepper and cucurbit varieties and breeding lines from both public and private breeders. In the lab, I am using fluorescently-labeled isolates of P. capsici to investigate interactions with susceptible and tolerant pepper roots during the early stages of infection.