Dr. Jeff Wilkinson
Dr. Jeff Wilkinson is actively involved in the study of plant-pathogen interactions. In his research he has examined both host crops and crop pest. These efforts have fostered the development of a strong research program capable of applying genomic and proteomic approaches to plant-pathogen interactions. During his graduate work at the University of North Texas he identified a cluster of PR-5 genes (pathogenesis related genes) in cotton. As part of the USDA-ARS in New Orleans he utilized microarray technology to identify potential regulators of aflatoxin biosynthesis in Aspergillusflavus and A. parasiticus. Currently, as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mississippi State University he has continued to utilize genomic and proteomic technologies in efforts to reduce aflatoxin contamination in maize. He and his research team are active in identifying and characterizing genes and proteins involved in regulation of biosynthesis of aflatoxin, as well as factors important in host (maize) resistance to insects, Aspergillus infection, and aflatoxin accumulation. Identified resistance genes are being developed as markers for use in the introgression of resistance into elite hybrid lines. Additionally, factors critical to the degradation of aflatoxin from contaminated maize kernels and cobs are being characterized in efforts to increase the utilization of aflatoxin contaminated products in ethanol production.