FunCrops

Overall Goals
The FunCrops project aims to harness plant fungal symbionts towards improving crop resistance to drought and disease. Fungi that live inside plant leaves are found in all plants and are known to moderate plant physiology and to antagonize pathogens, but to translate these into useful tools requires understanding the underlying drivers of how they do so. The specific objectives of this project are to:

(1) determine the scale at which fungi can be manipulated across the landscape
(2) identify highly beneficial fungi and the genes associated with those benefits
(3) develop spectroscopic methods to detect leaf-associated fungi in the field
(4) explore policy implications and stakeholder responses to fungal manipulations on crops

By taking a full-system approach that targets multiple aspects of the biology of fungal leaf symbionts, we will hasten their translation into practical agronomic tools. Read more about this project.

Team Members
FunCrops is a large collaborative effort, with team members from across NCSU that bring a wide variety of expertise to the project.

PI
Christine Hawkes, Plant and Microbial Biology, CALS

Co-PIs
Nathan Crook, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, COE
Jason Delborne, Forestry and Environmental Resources, CNR
Kevin Garcia, Crop and Soil Sciences, CALS
Josh Gray, Forestry and Environmental Resources, CNR
Ross Sozzani, Plant and Microbial Biology, CALS

Key Personnel
Peter Balint-Kurti, Entomology and Plant Pathology, CALS/USDA
Gina Brown-Guedira, Crop and Soil Sciences, CALS/USDA
Christina Cowger, Entomology and Plant Pathology, CALS/USDA
Ryan Heiniger, Crop and Soil Sciences, CALS
Michael Kudenov, Electrical and Computer Engineering, COE
Anna Locke, Crop and Soil Sciences, CALS/USDA
Cranos Williams, Electrical and Computer Engineering, COE

Postdocs and Students
Hashem Banah, MS Student
Gabriella Houdinet, Postdoc
Shailesh Karre, Postdoc

Funding
Support for this project is provided by the NCSU Game-changing Research Initiative Program for the Plant Sciences Initiative .