I am broadly interested in plant-microbe interactions, genetics, and evolution. After completing my MSc in Food Security from the University of Warwick, I worked on my PhD at Virginia Tech (USA) wherein I studied how oomycete plant pathogens acquire nitrogen from their host using the model pathosystem of Arabidopsis and its downy mildew pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis. I am now using genomics to study a hyper-variable effector family in the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida to further understand their function and how they contribute to nematode parasitism.
Besnard, J., Sonawala, U., Maharjan, B., Collakova, E., Finlayson, S. A., Pilot, G., Okumoto, S. (2020). Increased expression of UMAMIT amino acid transporters results in activation of salicylic acid dependent stress response. Frontiers in Plant Science, 11, 2214.
Sonawala, U., Dinkeloo, K., Danna, C. H., McDowell, J. M., Pilot, G. (2018). Functional linkages between amino acid transporters and plant responses to pathogens. Plant Science, 277, 79-88.
Besnard, J., Pratelli, R., Zhao, C., Sonawala, U., Collakova, E., Pilot, G., Okumoto, S. (2016). UMAMIT14 is an amino acid exporter involved in phloem unloading in Arabidopsis roots. Journal of Experimental Botany, 67(22), 6385-6397.