Role: HQP Scholar
Project: Resistance to bacterial brown spot in adzuki bean
Department: Department of Plant Agriculture (OAC)
What inspired you to pursue your current degree?
I am originally from Nigeria. In Nigeria, I obtained an undergraduate diploma in Advanced Microbiology (2004), a BSc. in Botany (2008), and MSc. in Genetics (2013). My undergraduate diploma in Microbiology exposed me to the fascinating realm of microscopic organisms. A first degree in the plant world educated me about the threat plants face from biotic and abiotic agents and how these threats could devastate food security. Graduate studies in Genetics made me know that resilient crops can be developed through breeding and gene manipulations. My academic experiences narrowed my research interest to developing crops that can keep pace with a changing climate and an increasing global population. My current studies at the University of Guelph, a Ph.D. in Plant Agriculture, specializing in Plant Breeding and Genetics under Prof. Peter Pauls, have given me the opportunity to merge both academic knowledge and research experiences I amassed from Microbiology, Botany, and Genetics into one research! My research focuses on understanding the genetics of resistance to a disease-causing microorganism in adzuki beans.
What about your research area excites you?
Adzuki bean is of export value to Canada. In 2020, Canada was the third-largest exporter of adzuki. I am excited to be part of research that will lead to the development of adzuki bean cultivars that are resistant to the emerging threat of bacterial brown spot disease.
What challenges do you find in your research, and how do you try to overcome them?
The most challenging aspect of my research is the very limited information available from previous studies. Overcoming this challenge involves being creative by testing several hypotheses for anticipated outcomes.
How would you describe your research and the implications of your project?
My research is saddled with unravelling the genetic basis that controls the resistance to bacterial brown spot disease in adzuki beans. The pathogen that causes bacterial brown spots is Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae van Hall. Bacterial brown spot disease was first observed in 2014 in the bean crop in Ontario. The devastating effect of bacterial brown spot disease on the Ontario dry bean crop is second to the white mould. When the disease is severe, yield losses are estimated to be as high as 40 percent. Currently, there is no bean cultivar resistant to bacterial brown spot available for cultivation in Ontario. As the bacterial brown spot is a relatively recent occurrence in the bean crop in Ontario, very little is known about the host-pathogen interactions that result in the disease in adzuki beans. My research involves elucidating the molecular aspects of interactions between the pathogen and the adzuki host. Information on these molecular interactions is key to understanding the molecular events that lead to susceptibility and resistance to the disease. The knowledge gained from my research will be applied in breeding approaches that aim to introduce resistance to bacterial brown spot in improved adzuki cultivars. The research will speed up the development of resistant cultivars.
What are three of your favourite activities outside the lab?
Ardent news follower
What is one important thing you have learned during the pandemic?
Serenity. The pandemic taught me to stay calm irrespective of the prevailing situations. Panic may complicate issues, but a calm mind can come up with timely solutions to challenges.