Jan Leach is a plant pathologist recognized for her work on the molecular basis of plant disease susceptibility and resistance and how these responses are influenced by interactions within the phytobiome. She focuses on bacterial diseases of rice, particularly on the molecular genetics of interactions between the pathogens and host plants. Leach was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. She earned her B.S. and M.S. in microbiology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and her Ph.D. in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After a postdoctoral position in the UK, she joined the Kansas State University faculty in 1984. In 2004, she moved to Colorado State University, where she is a University Distinguished Professor and the Research Associate Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences. She has served as President of the American Phytopathological Society (APS), the International Society for Plant Microbe Interactions, and the International Society of Plant Pathologists, and she was Chair of Section O (Agriculture, Food and Renewable Resources) for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Leach was awarded the Agropolis Fondation Louis Malassis International Scientific Prize for Agriculture and Food, and the APS Award of Distinction, and she is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Jan Leach's laboratory studies how plants respond to biotic and combined biotic-abiotic stresses, with particular interests in how bacterial pathogens cause disease, how plants defend themselves from these pathogens, and how environmental stressors (such as high temperatures) influence the outcomes. Her group also studies how the microbiome of the Russian wheat aphid influences aphid feeding on plants. By integrating physiological, molecular, genomic, and genetic approaches, and using laboratory and field experimentation, her group is working to identify sources of long-lasting, broad-spectrum disease and insect resistance in plant hosts, allowing for the development of ecologically sustainable forms of plant disease/insect control.

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Primary Section

Section 62: Plant, Soil, and Microbial Sciences

Secondary Section

Section 25: Plant Biology