Tesfaye Mengiste

Tesfaye Mengiste Profile Picture

Assistant Professor of Plant Pathology
PhD, Plant Molecular Biology, Friedrich-Miescher Institute, University of Basel, Switzerland, 1999

Contact Info:


Training Group(s):
Plant Biology
Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases

Active Mentor - currently hosting PULSe students for laboratory rotations and recruiting PULSe students into the laboratory; serves on preliminary exam committees

Current Research Interests:

Research in Dr. Mengiste's lab focuses on molecular mechanisms of plant responses to economically important fungal pathogens which reduce crop productivity worldwide.  Critical genetic components of plant resistance are identified through genetic and genomic approaches in the model plant Arabidopsis, and two crop plants tomato and sorghum. By applying genetic, molecular, and biochemical approaches, his lab seeks to determine how these key components regulate plant immune responses required for resistance. Molecular and biochemical mechanisms of tomato resistance are studied with a focus on the role of tomato receptor like kinases, and their substrates to shed light on tomato immune responses to broad host fungal pathogens. In parallel, attempts are made to translate some of the findings into genetic improvement of crops for disease resistance. In sorghum, the natural variation in the germplasm is being explored to identify genes or genomic regions that confer broad-spectrum resistance to anthracnose and grain mold diseases. The overarching goal is to expedite genetic improvement of sorghum to increase productivity in disease prone sorghum producing regions.


Current research areas

  • Arabidopsis immune response signaling, including the role of receptor kinases, transcription regulators and co-regulators, and chromatin modification in fungal and bacterial resistance.
  • Molecular mechanisms of tomato resistance to fungal pathogens, with a focus on role of receptor like kinases, regulators of induced systemic resistance to gray mold disease caused by Botrytis cinerea and early blight caused by Alternaria solani.
  • Genetic improvement of sorghum for resistance to fungal pathogens
  • Mechanisms of sorghum resistance to the parasitic weed Striga hermonthica.

Selected Publications:

Liao CJ, Lai Z, Yun DJ, and Mengiste T. 2016 Arabidopsis HOOKLESS1 regulates responses to pathogens and abscisic acid through interaction with MED18 and acetylation of WRKY33 and ABI5 chromatin. Plant Cell. 28(7):1662-81

Lee S, Fu F, Xu S, Lee SY, Yun DJ, and Mengiste T. 2016. Global regulation of plant immunity by histone lysine methyl transferases. Plant Cell. 28(7):1640-61.

Zhu Y, Schluttenhoffer CM, Wang P, Fu F, Thimmapuram J, Zhu JK, Lee SY, Yun DJ, Mengiste T. 2014. CYCLIN-DEPENDENT KINASE8 Differentially Regulates Plant Immunity to Fungal Pathogens through Kinase-Dependent and -Independent Functions in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2014 26(10):4149-70.

Smith JE, Mengesha B, Tang H, Mengiste T, and Bluhm, BH. 2014. Resistance toBotrytis cinerea in Solanum lycopersicoides involves widespread transcriptional reprogramming. BMC Genomics, 15(1):334

Lai Z, Schluttenhoffer CM,  Bhide K, Shreve J, Thimmapuram J, Lee SY, Yun DJ, and Mengiste T. (2013).  MED18 interaction with distinct transcription factors regulates multiple plant functions. Nature communications 5:3064.

Lai Z, Mengiste T. (2013). Genetic and cellular mechanisms regulating plant responses to necrotrophic pathogens. Curr Opin Plant Biol.  16(4):505-12.

Lin W, Lu D, Gao X, Jiang S, Ma X, Wang Z, Mengiste T, He P, Shan L. (2013). Inverse modulation of plant immune and brassinosteroid signaling pathways by the receptor-like cytoplasmic kinase BIK1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 10(29):12114-9.

Prusky D, Alkan N, Mengiste T, and Fluhr R. 2013. The Choice Between Quiescent  or Necrotrophic Lifestyles During Postharvest Disease Development. Annual Review of Phytopathology, 2013;51:155-76.

Mengiste T. (2012). Plant Immunity to Necrotrophs. Annual Review of Phytopathology 50: 267-294.

Laluk K, Luo H, Chai M, Dhawan R, Lai Z, Mengiste T. (2011). Biochemical and Genetic Requirements for Function of the Immune Response Regulator BOTRYTIS-INDUCED KINASE1 in Plant Growth, Ethylene Signaling, and PAMP-Triggered Immunity in Arabidopsis.  Plant Cell. 23(8):2831-49.

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