Faith Belanger
Associate Professor
Department: Department of Plant Biology
Phone: 1.8489326389
Email: belanger@sebs.rutgers.edu
School of Environmental & Biological Sciences
Foran Hall, Room 304
New Brunswick, NJ 08903
Key Words: Plant pathology/molecular biology/biotechnology: turfgrass molecular biology; endophyte interaction, fungal endophyte/grass interaction

My lab is focused on better understanding of the relationship of the Epichloƫ fungal endophytes with their grass hosts. Many cultivated and wild grass species are hosts to fungal endophytes. These associations are ecologically and agronomically significant, yet little is known regarding the physiological aspects of the interaction. In many instances the endophyte-grass association is strictly mutualistic, with the plant supplying nutrients to the fungus, and the fungus conferring benefits to the plant. One of these benefits is reduced herbivory by insects and animals due to the production of toxic alkaloids. Several grass species used for turf are naturally infected with endophytes, which is desirable due to the insect resistance they confer. Despite the commercial importance of the fungal endophytes, much remains to be learned about how they interact with their grass hosts. We are currently focused on analysis of fungal proteins expressed in the interaction.