Leon Van Eck
Fascinated by plants, their systematics and molecular biology and how they interact with their environment, Leon van Eck uses bio-informatic genome analysis to evaluate evidence of plant disease evolution.
“In the genomes of apple, peach and strawberry, I’ve identified more than 1,600 genes that are potentially involved in disease resistance,” he says. “Since these three species are closely related members of the rose family, I can compare their resistance gene composition and reconstruct how these genes have diversified into many distinct lineages.”
He’s interested in studying different apple variety genomes as potential new sources of resistance for plant breeding programs. “The most exciting science is multi-disciplinary and collaborative. As a plant geneticist within the Department of Plant Pathology, I get to work with computational biologists, plant pathologists and horticultural scientists toward understanding plant disease resistance and improving crop resilience.”