University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

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Lisa J. Vaillancourt

Lisa J. Vaillancourt, Ph.D.

Department of Plant Pathology
University of Kentucky
227 Plant Science Building
Lexington, KY 40546-0312

telephone: (859) 218-0731
fax: (859) 323-1961

Education Ph.D. in Plant Pathology, 1991, Purdue University
M.S. in Plant Pathology, 1987, University of Illinois
B.S. in Biology, 1984, University of Connecticut
Focus Research
Research in the Vaillancourt laboratory is focused on understanding molecular mechanisms of fungal pathogenicity to plants, with the ultimate goal of developing improved methods for management of important fungal diseases. We use a combination of cytology, genetics, and genomics to address our research questions. We have two main projects:
(1) The comparative analysis of Colletotrichum anthracnose diseases of various monocot and dicot hosts. Colletotrichum is one of the most common and important genera of plant pathogenic fungi, affecting nearly every species of plant grown for food or fiber worldwide. Colletotrichum fungi share certain aspects of their pathogenic behavior, including in many cases a hembiotrophic mode of infection that involves a developmental and genetic switch from biotrophic or endophytic colonization of living host cells, to utilization of dead tissues accompanied by the production of severe blight and rot symptoms. The comparative Colletotrichum project includes components related to population genetics, developmental biology, and comparative genomics, and involves collaborators at the University of Kentucky as well as in Europe and South America.

(2) Understanding the etiology of corn stalk rot disease. Corn stalk rot has been estimated to cause losses of between 5 and 10 percent of potential yield annually. Corn stalk rot is difficult to control because it is caused by several different fungi, and because the disease outcome is strongly influenced by the environment and by host physiology. Currently, very little is known about corn stalk rot, and the Vaillancourt laboratory is one of the few labs in the world working on this disease syndrome. Our goal is to undertake a comparative analysis of the three major fungal causal agents of stalk rot, Colletotrichum graminicola, Stenocarpella maydis, and Gibberella zeae, to uncover common themes of their development and pathogenicity to corn stalks, and of the corn response to these pathogens under various physiological and environmental conditions. This may facilitate development of management tools that would be more generally effective against stalk rots. Some of our work on this project has been done in collaboration with industry partners.
  • PPA 650, Fungal Biology
  • PPA 500, Physiology of Plant Health and Disease (Team Taught)



Employment Highlights
  • Professor, University of Kentucky, 2009 to present
  • Associate Professor, University of Kentucky, 2002-2009
  • Assistant Professor, University of Kentucky, 1996-2002
  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Vermont, 1991-1996



Awards, Recognition, Service
  • Bobby Pass Excellence in Grantsmanship Award, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, 2010
  • George E. Mitchell Jr. Outstanding Faculty Award for Service to Graduate Students, Gamma Sigma Delta, 2007
Professional Affiliations
  • American Phytopathology Society
  • Mycological Society of America
Recent Research Publications
  • Barcelos QL, Pinto JMA, Vaillancourt LJ, Souza EA (2014) Characterization of Glomerella strains recovered from anthracnose lesions on common bean plants in Brazil. PLoS One 9: 15. doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0090910
  • Bec S, Ward TJ, Farman M, O'Donnell K, Hershman DE, Van Sanford DA, Vaillancourt L (2014) Characterization of Fusarium strains recovered from wheat with symptoms of head blight in Kentucky. Plant Disease. doi 10.1094/PDIS-06-14-0610-RE
  • Torres MF, Cuadros DF, Vaillancourt LJ (2014) Evidence for a diffusible factor that induces susceptibility in the Colletotrichum-maize disease interaction. Molecular Plant Pathology 15: 80-93. doi 10.1111/mpp.12069
  • Crouch J, O’Connell R, Gan P, Buiate E, Torres M, Beirn L, Shirasu K, Vaillancourt L (2014) The genomics of Colletotrichum. In RA Dean, A Lichens-Park, C Kole, eds, Genomics of plant-associated fungi and oomycetes: Monocot pathogens. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 69-102
  • Torres, MF, Cuadros, DF, Vaillancourt, LJ. 2013. Evidence for a diffusible factor that induces susceptibility in the Colletotrichum–maize disease interaction. Molecular Plant Pathology DOI: 10.1111/mpp.12069.
  • O’Connell, R.J., Thon, M., Hacquard, S., Amyotte, S.G., Kleeman, J., Torres, M.F., Damm, U., Buiate, E.A., Epstein, L., Alkan, N., Altmuller, J., Alvarado-Balderrama, L., Bauser, C. A., Becker, C., Birren, B.W., Chen, Z., Choi, J., Crouch, J., Duvick, J.P., Farman, M.A., Gan, P., Heiman, D., Henrissat, B., Howard, R.J., Kabbage, M., Koch, C., Kracher, B., Kubo, Y., Law, A.D., Lebrun, M-H., Lee, Y-H., Miyara, I., Moore, N., Neumann, U., Nordstrom, K., Panaccione, D.G., Panstruga, R., Place, M., Proctor, R.H., Prusky, D., Rech, G., Reinhardt, R., Rollins, J.A., Rounsley, S., Schardl, C.L., Scwartz, D.C., Shenoy, N., Shirasu, K., Sikhakolli, U.R., Stuber, K., Sukno, S.A., Sweigard, J.A., Takano, Y., Takahura, H., Trail, F., van der Does, H.C., Voll, L.H., Will, I., Young, S., Zeng, Q., Zhang, J., Zhou, S., Dickman, M.B., Schulz-Lefert, P., Ver Loren van Themaat, E., Ma, L-J., and Vaillancourt, L.J. 2012. Lifestyle transitions in the plant pathogenic Colletotrichum fungi deciphered by genome and transcriptome analyses. Nature Genetics 44: 1060-1065
  • Sharma, B., Nokes, S., Montross, M., and Vaillancourt, L.J. 2011. A real-time polymerase chain reaction protocol for quantifying growth of Fusarium graminearum during solid substrate cultivation on corn stover. J. Biotech. Res. 2:144-155.
  • Buiate, E.A.S., de Souza, E.A, Vaillancourt, L., Resende, I., Klink, U.P. 2010. Evaluation of resistance in sorghum genotypes to the causal agent of anthracnose. Crop Breeding and Applied Biotechnology 10: 166-172.
  • Venugopal, S.C., Chanda, B., Vaillancourt, L., Kachroo, A., and Kachroo, P. 2009. The common metabolite glycerol-3-phosphate is a novel regulator of plant defense signaling. Plant Signaling and Behavior 4:8, 746-749.
  • Hartman J.R., Vaillancourt, L.J., Flowers, J.L., and Bateman, A.M. 2009. Managing Diplodia tip blight of landscape Austrian pines. Arboriculture and Urban Forestry 35(1): 27-32.
Curriculum Vitae  



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