Emile Gluck-Thaler



“The functioning of ecosystems essential for humanity’s survival often rests on the metabolic actions of fungi (think nutrient recycling in forests, cheese production, etc.). However, in the context of organismal interactions that result in plant disease, fungal metabolism is a significant determinant of virulence and a source of consternation to those seeking to prevent yield losses of agricultural crops. I am interested in studying the evolution of fungal metabolic pathways that degrade plant defense compounds in order to better understand the mechanisms of fungal pathogenicity in agroecosystems. With this goal in mind, I research fungal metabolic gene clusters, which are sets of neighboring genes encoding enzymes that catalyze successive steps in a metabolic pathway. Using comparative genomics and phylogenetic analyses, I seek to identify the steps of cluster assembly through evolutionary time. I also make use of molecular genetic and metabolomic techniques to characterize the fitness consequences of gene clustering.”

plant pathology profile