Weisberg lab

Evolution of Plant/Microbe Interactions

Research Interests

Research in the Weisberg lab focuses on the evolution and epidemiology of plant pathogens, both bacterial and fungal. We seek to characterize mobile genetic elements (MGEs) and their influence on microbial symbioses (pathogens and/or mutualist symbionts). We utilize comparative and population genomics of large datasets to classify and characterize the evolution of MGEs in diverse systems, primarily agricultural phytopathogens, as well as in nitrogen fixation symbiosis. We also work to develop pipelines for the epidemiology of major agricultural pathogens, including those that incorporate the movement of MGEs independently of strains.

Mobile genetic elements and disease

Mobile genetic elements, such as plasmids or integrative conjugative elements (ICEs) play a major role in many plant/microbe interactions, such as disease or symbiosis.

These elements, such as the Agrobacterium Ti plasmids, can carry genes essential for virulence and promote their transfer horizontally from one bacteria to another. In some cases this results in the emergence of new pathogen lineages.

Crown gall caused by Agrobacterium tumefaciens

Areas of Research Interest

Classification of plasmids in the agrobacteria/rhizobia complex.

Characterization of mobile elements

Gene synteny network of Type Ib Ti plasmids, showing variation in gene content.

Evolution of mobile genetic elements

Network linking oncogenic plasmid variants with Agrobacterium chromosomal genotypes.

Genomic epidemiology

News from the lab