Speaker Details

Rusty Rodriguez

Rusty Rodriguez has more than 20 years of experience performing laboratory, field and greenhouse research to study plant-fungal symbioses. He has operated laboratories in academic and federal government institutions, and industry with research encompassing molecular biology, field and soil ecology, plant adaptation and fungal physiology. These research efforts have taken him to a variety of habitats and geographic locations including the Great Basin desert, Great Lakes wetlands, Puget Sound marine ecosystems, Yellowstone National Park geothermal soils and oligotrophic soils of Antarctica. After receiving a PhD in microbiology at Oregon State University and a postdoctoral position in Plant Pathology at Cornell University, Rusty became an assistant professor of plant pathology (University of California, Riverside) in 1998. There he developed a research program to elucidate genetic differences between pathogenic fungi that cause diseases on plants and closely related mutualistic fungi that convey health benefits to plants. In 1993, he took a position with the U.S. Geological Survey to run a diverse research program involving plant-fungal symbiosis, invasive species, climate change, genetics of threatened and endangered species and outreach to bring science to the public. His research revealed that many plants in natural ecosystems do not adapt themselves to abiotic stress by altering their nuclear genomes. Instead, plants adapt to stress by forming symbiotic interactions with specific fungal endophytes. In 2012, Rusty Joined Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies (AST) to focus efforts on bringing symbiosis science to the public and develop symbiotic products for generating stress (drought, temperature, salinity) tolerant crops, decreasing agricultural inputs and increasing crop yields. AST has developed several products that are currently undergoing field evaluation with commercialization slated for 2014. Rusty maintains academic affiliation as a faculty member of Biology at the University of Washington and is currently the president of the International Symbiosis Society (www.iss-symbiosis.org).

Speaker's Presentaion(s)