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Margaret Daub

William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor

Former Department Head - PMB



Research efforts in my laboratory focused on the molecular biology of interactions between fungal pathogens of plants and their hosts, with an emphasis on the role of toxins, reactive oxygen species, and polyketide metabolites in pathogenicity. A major area of interest focused on fungi in the genus Cercospora and the role of their photoactivated toxin cercosporin in disease development. Cercosporin generates reactive oxygen species that damage host cells and allow for successful pathogenesis. Our work led to the characterization of the cercosporin biosynthetic pathway, as well as to the genes used by the fungus to defend against the toxin. This fundamental research then led to the successful engineering of Cercospora-resistant plants through expression of fungal autoresistance genes and through silencing of the biosynthetic pathway. Another project focused on the role of polyketide metabolic pathways in the black Sigatoka disease of banana, caused by the fungus Pseudocercospora fijensis. Polyketide gene clusters were identified in the P. fijiensis genome that are required for fungal reproduction and for disease development. These genes are potential targets for engineering banana for black Sigatoka resistance.

Most Recent Publication:

A polyketide synthase gene cluster required for pathogenicity of Pseudocercospora fijiensis on banana. PLOS ONE (2021)


Ph.D. Plant Pathology University of Wisconsin-Madison 1979

B.A. Biology College of Wooster 1974

Area(s) of Expertise

Plant-Fungal Interactions


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