Dr. Donald Kobayashi is a member of the Department of Plant Biology, with responsibilities in research and teaching. He currently serves as Director of the Undergraduate Program in Plant Biology. He also contributes to teaching and advising within the Undergraduate Programs in Biotechnology, and Agriculture and Food Systems; as well as the Graduate Program in Plant Biology. Dr. Kobayashi's main research interests fall within the discipline of Plant Pathology, with research expertise specializing in plant microbiology. Major research interests in the laboratory focus on genetic characterization of Xylella fastidiosa populations in the greater northeastern United States; and investigating the molecular basis of bacterial antagonism of fungal hosts.
- Genetic characterization of Xylella fastidiosa populations. X. fastidiosa subsp. multiplex is the causative agent of bacterial leaf scorch of oak, a disease in the greater New Jersey area that has been reported in the region over the past 40 years, and has now reached epidemic proportions. A lack of understanding of the pathogen, and general acceptable methods for disease control now threaten ancient oak stands, as well as the longevity of young oaks in forest and urban settings. Recent genetic characterization of the pathogen in the Kobayashi laboratory has demonstrated that local pathogen populations are genetically distinct from those found in other geographical locales. Further characterization identified unique genetic loci that are capable of distinguishing pathogen populations inhabiting different diseased trees within the same geographical locale. Continued studies are now aimed at investigating the threat of pathogen spread from oak to additional plant species, including important agricultural commodities within the state; identification of major insect vectors that transmit the disease between plants; and the development of feasible management methods to reduce progression of the disease.
- Molecular basis of bacterial antagonism of fungal pathogens. As bacterial/fungal interactions have become a topic of increasing interest, the Kobayashi laboratory has focused on understanding how the biological control bacterium, Lysobacter enzymogenes, establishes antagonistic interactions with fungal plant pathogens. The bacterium provides an excellent model system of study to investigate a broad range of mechanisms associated with fungal antagonism, including production of antibiotics; extracellular cell wall degrading enzymes; and pathogenicity mechanisms directed at fungal hosts. Through functional genomics approaches, the main interest of the laboratory is to understand how the bacterium attacks fungal hosts, and how host cells respond to bacterial infection.
Title and Address:
Professor, Department Chair
Department of Plant Biology
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences,
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Primary Focus Area: Plant Protection and Biotic and Abiotic Interactions