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Khan Lab: Mechanisms of Fruit Diseases and Resistance

School of Integrative Plant Science| Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section

Welcome to the Khan Lab!

We are interested in mechanisms of disease resistance and pathogenesis in rosaceous fruits, and to develop strategies to speed up variety development for improved disease resistance. Some of the tools that we use are quantitative genetics, QTL and association mapping, genome editing, bioinformatics, marker-assisted selection, and transgenics. We are also interested in developing high-throughput methods for plant resistance phenotyping.

Our research focus, the rose family (Rosaceae), is culturally and commercially valuable, as many of the most popular fruits belong to it. For example, apples, pears, peaches, plums, almonds, apricots, strawberries, cherries, loquats, and raspberries belong to the rosaceae family. A number of fungal and bacterial diseases cause huge economic losses to the fruit industry globally and are a threat to sustainable production.

Currently our primary research focus is to understand and improve resistance to fire blight and apple scab:

  • Understanding Underlying Mechanisms of Disease Resistance
    • Characterization of Mechanism of Disease Resistance
    • Development of High-Throughput Plant Resistance Phenotyping
  • Tools for Accelerated and Targeted Development of Varieties with Improved Disease Resistance
    • Genome-assisted breeding
    • Genome-editing

To make our research relevant to the industry, growers and public, our extension and outreach focus is on connecting lab and field research to the orchards for practical use. We also participate and present at meetings, workshops and expos to communicate scientific findings to engage growers and public for long-term impact. Goals of our outreach and educational efforts are to train undergraduate and graduate students as future leaders in the disciplines of plant pathology, genetics, bioinformatics and germplasm characterization, critical fields for economic competitiveness and food security in the US and globally. Please visit Research and Extension/Outreach for more details.


We welcome and support motivated summer scholars, undergraduate, graduate students, and postdoctoral scientists. If you are interested in any of the above areas, please contact us at

January 2020

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