About Barbara N. Kunkel's Work
I study the signaling and regulatory events governing interactions between plant pathogens and their hosts. Specifically, I seek to understand the strategies used by bacterial pathogens to colonize and cause disease on their plant hosts by identifying pathogen virulence factors and elucidating their mode of action in within the plant. The main study system in our laboratory is Pseudomonas syringe strain PtoDC3000, a pathogen of both Arabidopsis thaliana and tomato. Using a variety of genetic, molecular and biochemical approaches, my students and I have discovered that a key virulence strategy of P. syringae is manipulation of host hormone signaling to promote pathogenesis. This includes synthesis of plant hormones and hormone mimics, such as auxin and coronatine, a functional analog of the plant hormone jasmonic acid, as well as the deployment of virulence factors that modulate hormone sensitivity in the host. I am also interested in undergraduate biology education, and am currently teaching an introductory biology course.
Awards and Achievements
David Hadas Teaching Award
College of Arts & Sciences (2016)
Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award (2015)