Educationn and background
- PhD, Yale University, 1984
- Distinguished McKnight University Professor
Genomics of Plants, Symbiosis and Disease Resistance
My colleagues and I are interested in the genes that enable plants and microbes to communicate at a molecular level. We are especially interested in legumes (soybeans, peas, alfalfa, etc) and their symbiotic relationship with rhizobial bacteria. This symbiosis leads to the formation of root nodules, novel organs where plants and bacteria work together to fix nitrogen into a form that is biologically useful, an important source of natural fertilizer worldwide.
We primarily use the tools of genomics (massive DNA sequencing combined with computational data-mining) in our work. The starting points are the genome sequences of two important legume models, soybean and Medicago truncatula. Building on these data resources, we work to understand the process of legume-bacterial evolution that has taken place over millions of years and resulted in the modern crops grown today.
Often, the same genes controlling symbiosis are also responsible for defense against disease pathogens. Understanding the genome architecture of symbiosis and disease resistance genes provides essential insights into sustainable strategies to manage and exploit plant-microbe interactions in agriculture.
- Burghardt LT, Epstein B, Guhlin J, Nelson MS, Taylor MR, Young ND, Sadowsky MJ, Tiffin P (2018) Select and re-sequence reveals relative fitness of bacterial strains in symbiotic and free-living environments. Proceedings National Academy of Science USA, doi/10.1073/pnas.1714246115.
- Curtin SJ, Tiffin P, Guhlin J, Trujillo DI, Burghardt LT, Atkins P, Baltes NJ, Denny R, Voytas DF, Stupar RM, Young ND (2017) Validating genome-wide association candidates controlling quantitative variation in nodulation. Plant Physiology173: 921-931 doi: 10.1104/pp.16.01923.
- Stanton-Geddes J, Paape T, Epstein B, Briskine R, Yoder J, Mudge J, Bharti AK, Farmer AD, Zhou P, Denny R, May GD, Erlandson S, Sugawara M, Sadowsky MJ, Young ND, Tiffin P (2013) Candidate genes and genetic architecture of symbiotic and agronomic traits revealed by whole-genome, sequence-based association genetics in Medicago truncatula. PLoS ONE 8(5): e65688. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.
- Young ND, Debellé F, Oldroyd GE, Geurts R, Cannon SB, Udvardi MK, Benedito VA, Mayer KFX, Gouzy J, Schoof H, et al (2011) The Medicago genome provides insight into the evolution of rhizobial symbioses. Nature 480: 520-524 doi: 10.1038/nature10625.
- Zhou P, Silverstein KAT, Thiruvarangan R, Guhlin J, Denny RL, Liu J, Farmer AD, Steele KP, Stupar RM, Miller JR, Tiffin PL, Mudge J, Young ND (2017) Exploring structural variation and gene family architecture with de novo assemblies of 15 Medicago genomes. BMC Genomics 18:261 doi 10.1186/s12864-017-3654-1.