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Welcome to the Beer lab!

The Beer Lab is concerned primarily with phytopathogenic bacteria, especially the fire blight pathogen, Erwinia amylovora. Overall, the lab focuses on discovering fundamental relationships between the bacteria we study and the plants they infect. However, we also seek to apply these fundamental discoveries to reducing disease or otherwise improving agricultural productivity.

Our recent research has emphasized molecular genetic studies of the fire blight pathogen and its interactions with apple, its important host in New York State. Studies over the last two decades resulted in the identification and characterization of many hypersensitive response and pathogenicity (hrp) genes that encode products critical to disease development. We have identified several apple proteins that interact with the bacterial proteins. Manipulation of these proteins in either plants or bacteria has affected plant health or productivity. We are in final stages of completing the sequencing and analysis of the genome of a New York apple strain of Erwinia amylovora, in collaboration with the Sanger Institute and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Recently, in collaboration with the Lorbeer Lab, our lab has become involved in studies of onions that exhibit unusual syndromes of bacterial bulb decay.

Arts Quad

The Hrp pathogenicity island of E. amylovora strain Ea321. It consists of four DNA regions: the hrp/hrc region, the HEE region, the HAE region, and the IT region. The hrp/dsp gene cluster includes the hrp/hrc region and the HEE region. The genes having significant functions or homology with other significant genes are color-coded as indicated. The % G + C graph is the result of a sliding window of 500 nucleotides. This figure was adapted from Fig. 1 of Oh et al. [9].


orchard with fireblight

Extensive fire blight infection of apple trees in a commercial orchard in the Hudson River Valley of New York State.

apple oozing

Early stage of infection of apple blossom cluster. Note the drops of ooze emanating from the peduncles.