In the Pulse Crop Pathology Group we are interested in the biology of fungal and bacterial pathogens and their interaction with the legume host plants. The ultimate goal is to gain a better understanding of strategies employed by these pathogens to successfully invade and colonize pulse crops, and to exploit this knowledge for the purpose of developing resistant varieties and disease management strategies. The research program follows a hierarchical approach, covering aspects from the field level down to the microscopic and molecular level:

1. The development of sustainable disease management strategies

In the Pulse Crop Pathology Group we work closely together with the pulse crop breeders to develop resistant cultivars. We also conduct large field experiments to develop disease management strategies for producers, looking at aspects such as the efficacy of fungicides and the best timing of fungicide applications. More detailed studies on the epidemiology of pathogens involve field and growth room studies to determine temperature and moisture requirements for fungal development as a first step to improve disease management.

2. Pathogen population dynamics with particular emphasis on virulence and aggressiveness towards their hosts

We are interested in the dynamics of fungal populations as this influences the durability of resistance (i.e. resistance break-down) as well as the efficacy of disease management strategies. Population studies involve surveys to collect infected plant material, and large scale pathogenicity testing of recovered isolates on sets of varieties and germplasm with known disease reaction, and often molecular characterization of these isolates. Research in this area also looks at features of particular populations such as sexual recombination, mating type distribution and the genetics underlying mating.

3. The biology of pathogens and host-pathogen interactions

Another focus of the program is the study of host-pathogen interactions at the microscopic and molecular level. Here we investigate the invasion strategies of the pathogens on their legume host, and the reaction of the host cells to this invasion. Collaborative research has also been ongoing looking at the molecular interaction between host and pathogen.


  • Cheryl Armstrong-Cho (Research Assistant)
  • Stephanie Boechler (Senior Research Technician)
  • Candace Knihniski (Research Technician)
  • Trung Le (Research Technician)
  • Anthea Cabral (Research Technician)
  • Adrian Cabral (Postdoctoral Fellow)
  • Jennifer Menat (PhD student)
  • Aurélie Cohen-Skali (PhD student)
  • Maryam Rezaey (PhD student)
  • Morgan Mitzel (Summer student/Technical support 2009/2010)
  • Robin Love (Summer student 20009/2010)
  • David Congly (Summer student 2009/2010)
  • Yukiko Tanaka (Summer student 2010)