EEB Seminar Title: “Itching to Understand the Zen of the Toxicodendron”
Speaker: Dr. John Jelesko, Associate Professor in the Dept of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science at Virginia Tech
Date and Location: Thursday, September 17, 2015 at 3:30 pm in Derring 4069
The EEB speaker for 9/17 is Virginia Tech’s very own Dr. John Jelesko, Associate Professor in the Dept of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science. His talk is entitled “Itching to Understand the Zen of the Toxicodendron” and is hosted by The Global Change Center.
Information about Dr. Jelesko’s research can be found at https://www.ppws.vt.edu/people/faculty/jelesko-john.html and an abstract for his talk is below. There will be an opportunity to meet with Dr. Jelesko after the talk over beverages downtown (details TBA).
Poison ivy is paradoxically a “familiar stranger”. On one hand, the plant seems ubiquitous and the natural product (urushiol) responsible for the characteristic allergenic skin rashes is well known. Nevertheless, nearly all other aspects of poison ivy urushiol metabolism and chemical ecology remain largely uncharacterized. We are deploying a variety of technologies to investigate urushiol metabolism and chemical ecology. These approaches range from NextGen DNA sequencing technologies to identify putative urushiol biosynthetic genes, Viral Induced Gene Silencing (VIGS) for rapid reverse genetics, to crowd-sourced big data to model poison ivy’s increasing allergenicity in response to CO2-associated climate change. Early studies suggest that poison ivy harbors a fungal pathogen for selective infanticide, whereas avian frugivory provides a concomitant means for fungal decontamination, drupe dissemination, and priming of seedling germination.