Kristen Andersen

MS Graduate Research Assistant

Kristen Andersen
1066 Bogue St, Room A326
East Lansing, MI 48824

Phone: (517) 355-5191

I am a Masters student in the Horticulture Department as well as the Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology Program at MSU. My primary interests are in developing innovative solutions to problems faced by growers of horticultural crops, especially breeding for disease resistance and improved quality. Under the supervision of Dr. Amy Iezzoni, I am studying tart cherry and working toward the development of cultivars with resistance to the devastating fungal disease cherry leaf spot. My desired career path is one where I can continue to tackle important crop production problems and pursue my interests in vegetable crop breeding and plant pathology within the private sector. Ultimately, I hope that my work will contribute to more efficient, sustainable, and profitable production of horticultural crops with superior quality and nutrition.

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Cherry leaf spot is the most devastating pathogen faced by the tart cherry industry and is a significant problem in Michigan, where over 75% of tart cherries are grown in the United States. The cause of this disease is the foliar fungal pathogen Blumeriella jaapii, which causes leaf chlorosis and defoliation through numerous infection cycles each season. To combat this pathogen, growers use as many as 10 fungicide applications per season, which constitute a major production expense to growers and in some seasons even an aggressive spray program does not provide full control of the pathogen. In addition, more pesticide is released into the environment to control cherry leaf spot than for any other disease or insect in sour cherry production. In an effort to solve this problem, the MSU tart cherry breeding laboratory is working toward the development of durably resistant cultivars that would require little to no fungicide treatment in the control of cherry leaf spot, while at the same time meeting the quality standards of growers and consumers.

In the spirit of this goal, I am working on the evaluation of numerous breeding populations for their resistance and tolerance to cherry leaf spot in an effort to describe differences in host response to the disease, identify breeding lines where valuable traits are best maintained, and investigate the inheritance patterns of these traits to provide insight to underlying genetic mechanisms.