Plant Pathologist Honored By American Phytopathological Society

Wenbo Ma of UC Riverside selected as a “2012 Schroth Faces of the Future Symposium” speaker

Photo shows Wenbo Ma in her office.

Wenbo Ma is an associate professor of plant pathology and microbiology at UC Riverside. Photo credit: UCR Strategic Communications.

Wenbo Ma, an associate professor of plant pathology and microbiology, has been selected as a “2012 Schroth Faces of the Future Symposium” speaker at the annual meeting of the American Phytopathological Society (APS), which is scheduled to take place in Providence, RI, in early August.

“This award is given by the APS to early career scientists who are ‘up and comers’ in their fields,” explained Katherine A. Borkovich, the chair of the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology.

In her talk, Ma will discuss her research, which focuses on using a group of essential virulence proteins produced by bacterial pathogens to understand pathogenesis and facilitate disease detection.

“Bacterial pathogens have evolved a multitude of effectors that exert essential virulence functions in plant hosts during infection,” Ma said. “Since effectors directly target components of host immune system, research on how effectors promote infection provides critical information not only on strategies taken by pathogens to infect plants, but also on plant defense mechanisms.”

Knowledge obtained from Ma’s research is expected to contribute to the development of sustainable and novel disease intervention strategies.

She said her talk in Providence also will discuss the recent progress in her laboratory to use effectors to develop novel diagnostic methods for endemic bacterial diseases, such as the severe citrus diseases including Huanglongbing and citrus stubborn disease.

“These tools will immediately benefit the citrus industry that is facing major threats from these diseases,” Ma said.

Ma received her doctoral degree in biology in 2003 at the University of Waterloo, Canada. Thereafter, she did postdoctoral research for three years at the University of Toronto, Canada. She joined UCR in 2006. Her awards and honors include a Regents’ Faculty Fellowship at UCR, a postdoctoral fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the W.B. Pearson Medal from the University of Waterloo.

She is one of four scientists selected by the APS as Schroth Faces of the Future Symposium speakers this year.

The APS is the premier society dedicated to high-quality, innovative plant pathology research.

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