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Tesfaye Mengiste

Botany and Plant Pathology 

  • Professor
Lilly Hall Room G-452

Research in my lab focuses on molecular mechanisms of plant responses to economically important fungal pathogens which reduce crop productivity worldwide.  Critical genetic components of plant resistance are identified through genetic and genomic approaches in the model plant Arabidopsis, and two crop plants tomato and sorghum. By applying genetic, molecular, and biochemical approaches, we seek to determine how these key components regulate plant immune responses required for resistance. Molecular and biochemical mechanisms of tomato resistance are studied with a focus on the role of tomato receptor like kinases, and their substrates to shed light on tomato immune responses to broad host fungal pathogens. In parallel, attempts are made to translate some of the findings into genetic improvement of crops for disease resistance. In sorghum, the natural variation in the germplasm is being explored to identify genes or genomic regions that confer broad-spectrum resistance to anthracnose and grain mold diseases. The overarching goal is to expedite genetic improvement of sorghum to increase productivity in disease prone sorghum producing regions.


Current research areas

·         Arabidopsis immune response signaling, including the role of receptor kinases, transcription regulators and co-regulators, and chromatin modification in fungal and bacterial resistance.

·         Molecular mechanisms of tomato resistance to fungal pathogens, with a focus on role of receptor like kinases, regulators of induced systemic resistance to gray mold disease caused by Botrytis cinerea and early blight caused by Alternaria solani.

·         Genetic improvement of sorghum for resistance to fungal pathogens.
Mechanisms of sorghum resistance to the parasitic weed Striga hermonthica.

Selected Publications

Lai, Z., & Mengiste, T. (2013). Genetic and cellular mechanisms regulating plant responses to necrotrophic pathogens. Current Opinion in Plant Pathology, 16(4), 505-512.

Lin, W., Lu, D., Gao, X., Jiang, S., Ma, X., Wang, Z., . . . Shan, L. (2013). Inverse modulation of plant immune and brassinosteroid signaling pathways by the receptor-like cytoplasmic kinase BIK1. PNAS, 110(29), 12114-12119.

Prusky, D., Alkan, N., Mengiste, T., & Fluhr, R. (2013). Quiescent and necrotrophic lifestyle choice during postharvest disease development. Annual Reviews of Phytopathology, 51, 155-176. Retrieved from

Mengiste, T. (2012). Plant immunity to Necrotrophs. Annual Reviews of Phytopathology, 50, 267-294.

Nambeesan, S., AbuQamar, S., Laluk, K., Mickelbart, M., Mengiste, T., & Handa, A. (2012). Polyamines attenuate ethylene-mediated defense responses to abrogate resistance to Botrytis cinerea in tomato. Plant Physiology, 158(2), 1034-1045.

Laluk, K., Luo, H., Chai, M., Dhawan, R., Lai, Z., & Mengiste, T. (2011). Biochemical and Genetic Requirements for Function of the Immune Response Regulator Botrytis Induced Kinase1 in Plant Growth, Ethylene Signaling, and PAMP Triggered Immunity in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell, 23(8), 2831-2849. Retrieved from

Gutensohn, M., Klempien, A., Kaminaga, Y., Nagegowda, D., Negre-Zakharov, F., Huh, J., . . . Dudareva, N. (2011). Role of Aromatic Aldehyde Synthase in Wounding/Herbivory Response and Flower Scent Production in Different Arabidopsis Ecotypes. Plant Journal, 10. Retrieved from

Laluk, K., & Mengiste, T. (2011). The Arabidopsis extracellular UNUSUAL SERINE PROTEASE INHIBITOR functions in resistance to necrotophic fungi and insect herbivory. Plant Journal, 68(3), 480-494. Retrieved from

Laluk, K., & Abuqamar, S. (2011). The Arabidopsis Mitochondria-Localized Pentatricopeptide Repeat Protein PGN Functions in Defense against Necrotrophic Fungi and Abiotic Stress Tolerance. Plant Physiology, 156, 2053-2068.

Zhang, J., Li, W., Xiang, T., Liu, Z., Laluk, K., Ding, X., . . . Zhou, J. (2010). Receptor-like cytoplasmic kinases integrate signaling from multiple plant immune receptors and are targeted by a Pseudomonas syringae effector. Cell Host and Microbe, 7, 259-261.

Botany and Plant Pathology, 915 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4614

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