Acer VanWallendael works in David Lowry's Lab.
Area of Expertise: Polyploidy on phenotypic traits in switchgrass.
Acer came to Michigan State from Fordham University in the Bronx, NY, where he studied the evolution and ecology of an invasive plant, Japanese knotweed. His current research in the Lowry Lab focuses on understanding switchgrass resistance to fungal pathogens, including smut and rust. Switchgrass is an emerging biofuel crop, but its biomass can be greatly reduced by fungal pathogens. In replicated QTL (Quantitative Trait Locus) mapping populations, he has uncovered QTLs that provide rust resistance in northern, but not southern populations. His current projects include uncovering the population genetics of the rust and smut pathogens and studying the role the leaf microbiome plays in mediating fungal resistance. When he is not in the field collecting switchgrass leaves, he's probably hiking, biking, skiing, collecting mushrooms, and cooking exceedingly spicy food.