Skip to main content
Think and Do The Extraordinary
Support the Unit

Jean Ristaino

William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Director of Emerging Plant Disease

William Neal Reynolds Distingushed Professor

Director Emerging Plant DIsease and Global Food Security Cluster

Gardner Hall 2419



Dr. Ristaino works on the population genetics of historical epidemics of the pathogen that caused the Irish famine Phytophthora infestans and studies the population structure and epidemiology of modern day late blight outbreaks.  Her lab is interested in the impact of migration, recombination and hybridization on the evolution of Phytophthora species.  Her work has tracked migrations of P. infestans from its ancestral home in the Andes to the US and Europe. She developed pioneering research techniques for use of 150-year-old historic herbarium specimens to track epidemics. She was also part of the team that sequenced the first genome of P. infestans. Her recent work with collaborators has used next generation sequencing to study historical outbreaks.  Her lab also manages the disease surveillance network called This system records late blight outbreaks, sends disease alerts to growers, and provides decision support tools for managing disease. She has recently developed novel VOC sensor-based technology for detection of late blight. She also conducts Phytophthora molecular diagnostics workshops globally. Her lab also has described new species including Phytophthora andina and Phytophthora acaciae and developed a Lucid-based taxonomic key. Dr. Ristaino was named a National Academy of Sciences Jefferson Science Fellow in 2012 and has worked on a range of emerging plant diseases that impact global food security with USAID. She currently directs a new faculty cluster at NC State on “Emerging Plant Disease and Global Food Security”. She was awarded a Fulbright Research Scholar Award in 2017 at the University of Catania in Sicily. In 2020, she was elected a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society. Dr. Ristaino’ research impacts the science of plant pathology, epidemiology, population genomics, food security and science policy (

Join me on:        Twitter   and    Facebook

Visit my lab

Selected Publications

  • Ristaino, J. B. 2020. The importance of mycological and plant herbaria in tracking a plant killer. Front. Ecol. Evol. 7:521. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00521
  • Paul, R., Saville, A. C.,  Hansel, C.,  Ye, Y.,  Ball, C.  Williams, A.,  Chang, X.,  Chen, C., Gu, Z., Ristaino, J. B.,  and Wei, Q. 2019. Extraction of Plant DNA by Microneedle Patch for Rapid Detection of Plant Diseases. ACS Nano 13:6540-6549.  DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.9b00193.
  • Li, Z., Paul, R., Tis, T. ,  Saville, A. C. , Hansel, J. C., Ristaino, J. B. and Wei, Q.  2019. Noninvasive Plant Disease Diagnostics Enabled by Smartphone-Based Fingerprinting of Leaf Volatiles. Nature Plants 5: 856-866.
  • Saville, A. and Ristaino, J. B.   2019. Genetic structure and subclonal variation of extant and recent US lineages of Phytophthora infestans. Phytopathology 109:614-627.
  • Saville, , Martin, M, Gilbert, T. and  Ristaino, J.  2016.  Historic late blight outbreaks caused by a widespread dominant lineage of Phytophthora infestans (Mont.) de Bary  Plos One 11:  e0168381
  • Martin, M., Vieira, F.G., Ho,S. Y. W., Wales, N.,Schubert, M., Sequine-Orlando, A. Ristaino, J.B. and Gilbert, T. 2015.  Genomic characterization of a South American Phytophthora hybrid mandates reassessment of the geographic origins of Phytophthora infestans . Mol. Biol. Evol. 33: 478-491 doi:10.1093/molbev/msv241.
  • Martin, M. D., Ho, S. Y., Wales, N.,  Ristaino, J. B. and Gilbert, M.T.P. 2014. Persistence of the mitochondrial lineage responsible for the Irish potato famine in extant New World Phytophthora infestans. Molecular Biol. Evol. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msu08Martin, M. D.,  Cappellini, E., Campos, P, Orlando. A. S., Orlando, L., Samaniego, J. A,  Ho, S. Y. W.,  Saville, A. ,  Dietrich, F. S., Mieczkowski, P.,  Heitman, J.,Willerslev, E., Krogh, A.,  Ristaino, J. B., and Gilbert. M. P. T. 2013. Reconstructing genome evolution in historic samples of the Irish potato famine pathogen. Nature. Communications DOI 10:1038/ ncomms1372.Fry, W.


View on Google Scholar