RAYKO HALITSCHKE (rh239@cornell.edu)


As a Research Associate in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionaryc Biology I am interested in the mechanisms of herbivore-induced responses in several different plant species including wild tomato and tobacco, milkweed, and goldenrod. Specific projects I am working on require qualitative and quantitative analyses of morphological, biochemical, and molecular plant traits. I am developing tools and analytical methods for th e characterization of these traits and test their function in the interaction of the plant with its natural arthropod community including herbivores, natural enemies and pollinators, in field and laboratory experiments. In the lab of Andre Kessler I am working on two major research projects: 1) The herbivore-specific induction of changes in primary metabolism in wild tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata), and 2) Herbivore-induced pollinator limitation and the evolution of defense vs pollination strategies in wild tomato plants.

As the manager of the Cornell Chemical Ecology Core Facility, in collaboration with Anurag Agrawal, I am working on the development of a high-throughput procedure for the analysis of milkweed cardenolides. Furthermore, I started to characterize genes involved in the jasmonate signaling cascade which mediates the activation of herbivore-induced defenses. I am isolating the Coronatin-insensitive 1 (COI1) gene from several different milkweed species which have evolved different defense strategies. Silencing the genes in these closely related species will allow us to compare the ecological function of jasmonate-induced defense responses in plants with different defensive strategies.