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Washington University in St. Louis - Dept. of Biology

Mansfeld Lab

Exploring Plant Defense Optimization


What we study

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Plant defense is not a static biological process – it is influenced by dynamic factors such as developmental stage, morphology, tissue type, and the circadian clock. Our research program uses various non‑model species and a hypothesis driven, systems approach to examine how these factors impact plant defense. We are particularly fascinated by how plants have navigated the fine line between growth and defense, evolving different strategies to optimize interactions with their microbial environments to maximize fitness.


Time of day

Circadian mediated defenses


Organ specificity

Development of specialized tissues for localized defense.



Developmental or ontogenic changes in preformed defenses

How we do it

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Differential expression

Allele specific expression

Network biology

Complex large sample biological gene expression networks

Genome assembly

Haplotype resolved assembly of highly heterozygous species

Forward Genetics

Bulk Segregant Analyses


Genetic mapping

QTL mapping


Phytohormone analyses

Untargeted metabolomics

Tool development

R package development

SHINY apps

High throughput disease phenotyping

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