Welcome to the Rebecca Nelson Lab

We study the pathology and genetics of maize diseases, from ear rots that leave carcinogenic toxins in the food of Kenyan smallholder farmers to the leaf blights that are currently wracking the temperate US.

Our work on foliar diseases is oriented toward understanding the genetic architecture of quantitative resistance.  We’re working to understand how the natural allelic diversity of maize influences host-pathogen interactions.  We’re identifying the genes that reduce disease, and asking how alleles that disadvantage pathogens influence other traits in maize.

Our work on mycotoxins ranges from genetics (similar to the issues noted above) to very practical work in the context of African and Indian food systems. We’re developing surveillance methods for local food systems and working on ways of sorting grain at local hammer mills to reduce toxin levels.

                                                                               Recent News

Check out Anthony Wenndt, Tata Cornell Scholar’s blog on participatory research to address mycotoxin contamination for smallholder farmers in India

Check out Judy Kolkman’s article on the increased susceptibility of brown midrib corn to multiple fungal pathogens

Our annual lab BBQ looked a little different this year, but we’re hanging in there! #2020

See a brief overview of our current areas of research

Peruse our papers on genetics, pathology, public health, and more

View our current and former lab members

Browse images of maize diseases and our lab in action