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Washington State University Molecular Plant Sciences


Research Geneticist (Plants), USDA ARS. Adjunct Faculty in Molecular Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology. Ph.D. 1992, UCLA.



Molecular defense mechanisms used by host roots and seeds during interactions with soilborne pathogens and biocontrol bacteria are not well understood. The focus of my research is to identify and understand the action of plant genes that govern interactions with pathogenic and beneficial soil microbes. Basic research focuses on characterizing defense pathways in wheat roots and seeds, whereas applied research is focused on pathogen diagnostics and development of disease resistant wheat and barley. Approaches used in the laboratory include forward and reverse genetics, transcriptomics, genomics, fungal community profiling, tissue culture and real-time PCR.


Selected Publications

Okagaki LH, CC, Sailsbery J, Clay B, Brown D, John T, Oh Y, Young N, Fitzgerald M, Haas BJ, Zeng Q, Young S, Adiconis X, Fan L, Levin JZ, Mitchell TK, Okubara PA, Farman ML, Kohn LM, Birren B, Ma L-J, Dean RA (2015). Genome sequences of three phytopathogenic species of the Magnaporthaceae family of fungi. Genes, Genomes, Genetics (G3), Early Online. doi 10.1534/g3.115.020057

Okubara PA, Leston NL, Micknass U, Kogel K-H, Imani J. Rapid quantitative assessment of Rhizoctonia resistance in roots of selected wheat and barley genotypes (2015). Plant Disease, First Look.

Bruner EA, Okubara PA, Abi-Ghanem R, Brown DJ, Reardon CL (2015) Use of pressure cycling technology for cell lysis and recovery of bacterial and fungal communities from soil. BioTechniques 58:171-180.

Fuerst EP, Okubara PA, Anderson JV, Morris CT (2014) PPO as a biochemical seed defense mechanism. Frontiers in Plant Sci 5:689.

Okubara PA, Dickman MB, Blechl AE (2014) Molecular and genetic aspects of controlling the soilborne necrotrophic pathogens Rhizoctonia and Pythium. Plant Sci 128:61-70.

Okubara PA, Schroeder KL, Abatzoglou JT, Paulitz TC (2014) Agroecological factors correlated to soil DNA concentrations of Rhizoctonia in dryland wheat production zones of Washington state, USA. Phytopathology 104:683-691.

Mavrodi OV, Walter N, Elateek S, Taylor CG, Okubara PA (2012) Suppression of Rhizoctonia and Pythium root rot of wheat by new strains of Pseudomonas. Biological Control 62:93-102.

Maketon C, Fortuna A-M, Okubara PA (2012) Cultivar-dependent transcript accumulation in wheat roots colonized by Pseudomonas fluorescens Q8r1-96 wild type and mutant strains. Biological Control 60:216-224.

Bennypaul HS, Mutti J, Kumar N, Rustgi S, Okubara PA, Gill KS (2011) Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) of genes expressed in root, leaf and meiotic tissues of wheat. Functional Integrative Genomics. DOI 10.1007/s10142-011-0245-0.

Okubara PA, Jones SS (2011) Seedling tolerance to Rhizoctonia and Pythium in wheat chromosome group 4 addition lines from Thinopyrum spp. Canadian Journal Plant Pathology 33:415-422.

Okubara PA, Call DR, Kwak Y, Skinner DZ (2010) Induction of defense gene homologues in wheat roots during interactions with Pseudomonas fluorescens. Biological Control 55:118-125.

Okubara PA, Steber CM, DeMacon VL, Walter, NL, Paulitz TC, Kidwell, KK (2009) EMS-treated hexaploid wheat genotype Scarlet has enhanced tolerance to the soilborne necrotrophic pathogens Rhizoctonia solani AG-8 and R. oryzae. Theoretical Applied Genetics 119: 293-303.

Okubara PA, Bonsall RF (2008) Accumulation of Pseudomonas-derived 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol on wheat seedling roots is influenced by host cultivar. Biological Control 46:322-331.

Okubara PA, Schroeder KL, Paulitz TC (2008) Identification and quantification of Rhizoctonia solani and R. oryzae using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Phytopathology, 98:837-847.