Brian Staskawicz in lab holding wheat stem
Photo: Elena Zhukova

Research Expertise and Interest

biotechnology, plant and microbial biology

Research Description

Research in the Staskawicz laboratory is focused on elucidating the molecular basis of plant innate immunity from the perspective of both the pathogen and the host. We have emphasized the identification and characterization of bacterial effector proteins from both Pseudomonas syringae and Xanthomonas spp. with respect to the molecular events that control delivery of effector proteins to host and their sites of action within the plant host. We have studied the dual phenotype of bacterial effectors with regards to both virulence and their ability to trigger effector-mediated immunity when they are recognized by their cognate NB-LRR plant innate immune receptors. Our laboratory studies many aspects of plant innate immunity and employs cutting edge methods to answer many of the pressing questions in the field that pertain to effector recognition and NB-LRR immune receptor activation. Furthermore, we have now set out to apply basic discoveries in the field of molecular plant pathology to engineer durable resistance in agronomic crop species.

In the News

In 10 years, CRISPR Transformed Medicine. Can It Now Help Us Deal With Climate Change?

Coming from a long line of Iowa farmers, David Savage always thought he would do research to improve crops. That dream died in college, when it became clear that any genetic tweak to a crop would take at least a year to test; for some perennials and trees, it could take five to 10 years. Faced with such slow progress, he chose to study the proteins in photosynthetic bacteria instead. But the advent of CRISPR changed all that.

London’s Royal Society elects four from Berkeley

The Royal Society of London, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, announced their newest fellows this week, among them four UC Berkeley faculty. The newest Berkeley fellows are U.K.-born developmental biologist Richard Harland and Australian-born chemist Martin Head-Gordon. They are joined by two new foreign members, climate scientist Inez Fung and plant biologist Brian Staskawicz. The four are among 51 new fellows, 10 new foreign members and one new honorary member.

With nanotubes, genetic engineering in plants is easy-peasy

Inserting or tweaking genes in plants is more art than science, but with a new technique developed by University of California, Berkeley, scientists could make genetically engineering any type of plant—in particular, gene editing with CRISPR-Cas9—simple and quick.
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