371c Bond Life Sciences Center
Walter Gassmann is a professor in plant sciences and part of the Interdisciplinary Plant Group (IPG). Gassmann focuses upon the inner workings of the plant immune system. In particular, he is interested in how it is activated, and how it is kept in check to prevent harmful side effects from an overactive immune system, such as stunted growth and reduced seed yield. In 2009 and 2010, Gassmann’s research revealed a new component of plants’ immune machinery that contributes to tight control of immune responses, so that they do not overreact or underreact to attacks by pathogens. These advances were made with the commonly-used research plant, Arabidopsis. An off-shoot of this research is a project to characterize the immune system in Norton grapes, a native Missouri grape variety which is resistant to powdery mildew, a fungus responsible for costly damage to grape crops world-wide.