Carla Spence is graduating with a Ph.D in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Delaware in Summer 2014. She entered graduate school after receiving her B.S. in biology from the same University. She loves spending her leisure time with her husband, Sean, 2 years old son Trent, and her 8 months old daughter Callia.
Recently we spoke with Miss Spence to know more about her research, especially regarding the study published in BMC Plant Biology (doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-130) and also about why it is important, how life as a research scientist is, and so on. So let’s go ahead:
Q. Let us start with your research topic. What is your research area? Will you please tell us a bit more on this? What did you find?
Carla Spence: The focus of this project is using natural soil microbes to increase the resistance of rice to blast disease. Rice blast is caused by the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae. We isolated bacteria from the rice rhizosphere, which is the soil surrounding the roots, and found one bacterium, EA105, which can drastically inhibit the growth of M. oryzae. What’s more interesting is that rice roots can be treated with EA105 and this triggers a defense response in the plant called Induced Systemic Resistance (ISR) which makes the rice plants more resistant to M. oryzae infection. EA105 can protect rice from M. oryzae without physically coming into contact with the fungus. (more…)