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.

As part of the 2016 New York Youth Institute, a program of the World Food Prize, we showed high school students from all across New York State some of new technologies our lab has been using and developing.

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