1. K-State home
  2. »Plant Pathology

Department of Plant Pathology

Welcome to the Department of Plant Pathology

We are a department of plant and microbial scientists, teaching and experimenting alongside our students, the next generation of scientists and leaders.

Our internationally recognized programs and faculty, culturally diverse students, state-of-the-art facilities and friendly atmosphere provide an ideal environment for learning.

While browsing our pages, please consider whether joining a community like ours might be the right training experience for you to launch or advance your science career.

Recent News

For additional news and announcements, please follow us on Facebook.

Plant pathology researcher attains $700,000 NIFA grant to study bacterial disease in corn

Kansas State University, under the lead of Sanzhen Liu, has been awarded funds to study the genetic basis of resistance to bacterial disease in corn by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The goal of the research is to understand the basis of disease and enable the development of improved corn varieties for Goss’s wilt resistance.

Liu, assistant professor of plant pathology at K-State, is the principal investigator for the three-year $700,000 research grant. He will also work with Professors Frank White from the University of Florida and Alison Robertson from Iowa State University.

The bacterial disease called Goss’s wilt has re-emerged in major corn-producing areas of the United States and Canada and represents a threat to maize production. Researchers on this project will pinpoint genetic elements responsible for bacterial virulence and host resistance through genetic approaches. The research will provide implications for other important, yet poorly understood, plant diseases caused by closely related bacteria, including tomato canker and potato ring rot.

At K-State, Liu will also provide a research opportunity to students who are eligible to participate in the Kansas Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, or KS-LSAMP, through working with the director of the Diversity Programs Office at K-State.

The project, "Analyses of Bacterial Avirulence and Virulence Loci and Host Resistance of Maize Goss's Wilt," was awarded by the USDA through the NSF/NIFA Plant-Biotic Interactions program.

Innovation Lab Renewed for $4.9 Million for 5 Years

Ernie Minton Making Annoucement

Ernie Minton, the interim dean of the Kansas State University College of Agriculture, welcomes attendees to Thursday’s announcement of $21.9 million being awarded to the university by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The funds will go toward K-State’s work with the Feed the Future initiative, the U.S. government’s effort to reduce global hunger and poverty.

“These awards don’t happen by accident,” said Jennifer "Vern" Long, the acting director for the office of agriculture, research and policy in USAID’s Bureau for Food Security. “We have a very high bar for extending programs, and it’s really a reflection of the innovative approach that these programs have taken and how they bring the best of U.S. science to bear on these global challenges.”


Wheat Code Finally Cracked

Science Magazine Cover: Shifting the limits in wheat research and breeding using a fully annotated reference genome

Kansas State University scientists, in collaboration with the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium, published today in the international journal Science a detailed description of the complete genome of bread wheat, the world's most widely-cultivated crop.

This work will pave the way for the production of wheat varieties better adapted to climate challenges, with higher yields, enhanced nutritional quality and improved sustainability. The article is titled "Shifting the limits in wheat research and breeding using a fully annotated reference genome."


Betzen Attends Alliance for Science Workshop

Bliss Betzen

Bliss Betzen MS GRA, finished the first year of her master's degree in May. She advanced her knowledge of plant genetics, but she didn't have much experience talking to people about her research.


Bikram Gill Recognized for 39 Years of Service

Gill Retirement

Bikram Gill established the Wheat Genetics Resource Center (WGRC) at Kansas State University in 1984. The WGRC brought together plant pathologists, entomologists, breeders, and USDA personnel with a vision of germplasm conservation and utilization for crop improvement for sustainable production by broadening the crop genetic base; creating and promoting the free exchange of materials, technology, and new knowledge in genetics and biotechnology among the world’s public and private organizations. State-of-the-art laboratories, greenhouses, and field plot facilities helped establish the WGRC.


Soybean Farmers Can Limit Losses With Careful Management

Charcoal rot the number 1 yield reducing disease in Kansas.


Barbara Valent to Receive Noel T. Keen Award

Barbara Valent

Barbara Valent, university distinguished professor of plant pathology, was recently named the 2018 recipient of the Noel T. Keen Award for Research Excellence in Molecular Plant Pathology by the American Phytopathological Society.

The award recognizes Valent's work on the blast diseases of rice and wheat. Rice blast is the most important disease concerning the rice crop in the world. Wheat blast has caused significant crop damage in South America and Bangladesh. Her work has been focused on improving blast control in the U.S. wheat crop in anticipation of its introduction into this country.

The award will be presented later this summer at the International Congress of Plant Pathology meeting in Boston.


2018 Fall AgReport

Employment Opportunities

Prospective Graduate Students

Undergraduate Opportunities


Sanzhen Liu

"Genomic Exploration of Plant Pathogens and Host Resistance"

Dr. Sanzhen Liu

Department of Plant Pathology, Kansas State University

September 27, 2018 3:45pm, 4031 Throckmorton