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Featured Profile: Melissa Mitchum

Melissa Mitchum

University of Missouri researcher Dr. Melissa Mitchum helps plants resist disease.

Soybeans are used abundantly in the U.S. for everything from food to biofuels to non-toxic crayons. Each year, a parasite known as the soybean cyst nematode (SCN), costs more than $1 billion in lost crops. Funded by the National Science Foundation and other leading agencies, Mitchum focuses on the SCN in her research.

Mitchum works to understand how the parasite communicates and interacts with its host. She led a team of researchers who uncovered the mechanisms used by cyst nematodes to invade and drain nutrients from soybean plants. Understanding this process is a crucial step in helping to create pest-resistant plants. Mitchum and her colleagues also cloned a soybean gene which plays an important role in resistance to the SCN. The gene opens new avenues to create soybean varieties that fight off the parasite.

To help translate these research breakthroughs into useful tools for soybean producers, Mitchum is developing guides for farmers to incorporate new technologies and better management strategies to reduce the impacts of the soybean cyst nematode.

Dr. Melissa Mitchum is associate professor in the Division of Plant Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. She is also a resident faculty member of the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center.

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Related Initiative(s):
Food for the Future, Sustainable Energy,