M. Soledad Benitez
Assistant Professor, Plant Pathology
Selby Hall 214
Areas of Expertise
- Plant microbiome
- Beneficial plant-microbe interactions
- BS Biological Sciences, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, Quito 2002
- MSc Plant Pathology, Ohio State University 2007
- PhD Plant Pathology, Ohio State University 2008
I received my BS in Biological Sciences from Pontificia Universidad Catolica (PUCE), Quito-Ecuador in 2002. After working for PUCE I moved on to my PhD training in Plant Pathology at the Ohio State University. I graduated from OSU in 2008. Upon graduation I had the opportunity to teach in Ecuador, where I began working on aspects of tuber blight suppression in Andean soils, in collaboration with Oklahoma State University. From there I moved on and worked in two postdoc programs, at Duke University and a USDA Research laboratory in South Dakota, respectively. At both locations my research was focused on high-through put approaches for plant-associated microbial community analysis, with particular interest in seedling endophytes. I joined as faculty a the Plant Pathology Department at OSU in August 2017.
I specialize in studies of diversity and function of soil and plant-associated microbial communities and their contributions to plant growth. Specifically, I combine field, laboratory bench work and computational analyses to explore how land management practices affect microbe-microbe and plant-microbe interactions in the soil-plant interface and their effects in plant health, with emphasis on beneficial organisms. I use classic microbiology and plant pathology techniques; high throughput next-generation sequencing and microbiome research; greenhouse and field experiments to assess plant health; and computational analysis required for integrating next generation sequences and field data.