Margaret Ellis, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor in Plant Pathology
Office: Ag 227
Phone: (559) 278-1692
Faculty Advisor for the Plant Health Society

Office Hours:
Wednesday 2:00-5:00 pm or by appointment.

Current Courses:

PLTH 109 (Diagnosis and Control of Plant Diseases); PLANT 170T (Mycology); and PLANT 170T (Molecular Techniques in Plant Science).

Plant Health Courses:

PLTH 104 (Plant Nematology); PLTH 106 (Plant Pathology); PLTH 109 (Diagnosis and Control of Plant Diseases); PLANT 170T (Mycology); and PLANT 170T (Molecular Techniques in Plant Science). Co-teach PLTH 1 (Introduction to Plant Health); and PLANT 261 (Advanced Plant Health


Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from The Ohio State University, December 2011

M.S. in Plant Pathology from Michigan State University, December 2007

B.S. in Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, May 2003

Student Research Projects:

Graduate Student Research Projects:

Gregory Osteen - working on Phytophthora identification and management of deciduous fruit and nut crops on the Fresno State farm.

Undergraduate Student Research Projects:

Projects for undergraduate research currently focus mainly on surveying crops grown on the Fresno State farm to identify pathogen populations. These surveys will provide important information for future management strategies of the crops grown here at Fresno State. 

Holly Deniston-Sheets - working on the identification of Phytophthora and Pythium plant pathogens in the water irrigation systems on the Fresno State farm. Deniston-Sheets was awarded a $1000 Undergraduate Research rGrant for her proposal on this project.

Jessie Brazil - project to be determined. Jessie’s project is to fulfill part of her requirement for the JCAST honors program that she was recently accepted into.

Patricia Samaniego – assisting with the identification of Phytophthora and Pythium plant pathogens on the Fresno State farm

Fields of Interest:

I have always had strong research interests in disease management and population genetics of soil-borne fungi and oomycetes, and horizontal gene transfer of fungi. Areas I would like to focus on while developing my research program here at Fresno State include fungal-host interactions, and fungal-nematode interactions with agronomical important crops in the Central Valley region. 

Past Research:

The majority of my post-doctoral research focused on describing the genetic diversity of the F. oxysporum species complex (FOSC) from soybean by distinguishing unique subgroups in a phylogenetic analysis, and defining vegetative compatibility groups (VCGs). More recently, I have begun using genotyping by sequencing to better resolve the kinship of FOSC isolates from soybean and to try and identify unique loci that may be involved in host specificity and pathogenicity. An additional area of research was the development of an assay using magnetic capture hybridization to detect F. oxysporum f.sp. phaseoli from common bean seeds.

My doctoral research focused on seedling diseases of soybeans caused by Pythium spp. and Fusarium graminearum. The objectives of my research included: determination of optimum conditions for disease development by F. graminearum, and the efficacy of different fungicidal compounds toward Pythium spp. and F. graminearum; description of two new pathogenic species of Pythium isolated from soybean and corn; and mapping QTLs which confer resistance in soybean to Pythium irregulare and F. graminearum.

My master’s research focused on Armillaria root disease. The objectives of my project included: molecular identification of Armillaria species associated with cherry trees, species distribution in the cherry producing regions of Michigan, determining the relatedness of isolates, studying the epidemiology of Armillaria within an orchard site, and to initiate screening of grape rootstock for susceptibility to Armillaria.

Teaching Philosophy:

"You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives."-Clay P. Bedford

I believe it is important to embark on the learning process with your students, and that learning goes both directions; I have tremendously enjoyed learning from, and with, my students.

Personal Interests: Dance, art, cooking, hiking, and traveling



Ellis, M.L., Lanubile, A., Garcia, C., and Munkvold, G.P. 2016. Association of putative fungal effectors in Fusarium oxysporum with wilt symptoms in soybean. Phytopathology. Accepted.

Ellis, M.L., Cruz Jimenez, D.R., Leandro, L.F., and Munkvold, G.P. 2014. Genotypic and phenotypic characterization of fungi in the Fusarium oxysporum species complex from soybean roots. Phytopathology. 104:1329-1339.

Ellis, M.L., and Munkvold, G.P. 2014. Trichothecene genotype of Fusarium graminearum isolates from soybean seedlings and root diseases in the United States. Plant Disease. 98: 1012.

Matthiesen, R.L., Ahmad, A.A., Ellis, M.L., and Robertson, A.E. 2014. First report of Pythium schmitthenneri causing maize seedling blight in Iowa. Plant Disease. 98: 994.

Díaz Arias, M.M, Munkvold, G.P, Ellis, M.L., and Leandro, L.F. 2013. Distribution and frequency of Fusarium species associated with soybean roots in Iowa. Plant Disease. 97:1557-1562.

Ellis, M.L., McHale, L.K., Paul, P.A., St. Martin, S.K., and Dorrance, A.E. 2013. Soybean germplasm resistant to Pythium irregulare and molecular mapping of resistance quantitative trait loci derived from the soybean accession PI 424354. Crop Science. 53:1008-1021.

Ellis, M.L., Díaz Arias, M.M., Cruz Jimenez, D.R., Munkvold, G.P, and Leandro, L.F. 2013. First report of Fusarium commune causing damping-off, seed rot, and seedling root rot on soybean (Glycine max) in the United States. Plant Disease. 97:284.

Ellis, M.L., Díaz Arias, M.M., Leandro, L.F., and Munkvold, G.P. 2012. First report of Fusarium armeniacum causing seed rot and root rot on soybean (Glycine max) in the United States. Plant Disease. 96:1693.

Ellis, M.L., Wang, H., Paul, P.A., St. Martin, S.K., McHale, L.K., and Dorrance, A.E. 2012. Identification of soybean genotypes resistant to Fusarium graminearum and genetic mapping of resistance quantitative trait loci in the cultivar Conrad. Crop Science. 52:2224-2233.  

Ellis, M.L., Broders, K.D., Paul, P.A., and Dorrance, A.E. 2012. Two new species of Pythium, P. schmitthenneri and P. selbyi pathogens of corn and soybean in Ohio. Mycologia. 104: 477-487.

Ellis, M.L., Broders, K.D., Paul, P.A., and Dorrance, A.E. 2011. Infection of soybean seed by F. graminearum and effect of seed treatments on disease under controlled conditions. Plant Disease. 95:401-407.

Zelaya-Molina, L.X., Ellis, M.L., Berry, S.A., and Dorrance, A.E. 2010. First report of Phytophthora sansomeana causing wilting and stunting on corn in Ohio. Plant Disease. 94: 125.

Broders, K.D., Lipps, P.E., Ellis, M.L., and Dorrance, A.E. 2009. Pythium delawarii-a new species isolated from soybean in Ohio. Mycologia. 101: 232-238.

Ellis, M.L. 2007. Distribution, identification, and population diversity of Armillaria spp. in Michigan cherry orchards. Thesis. The Michigan State University. East Lansing, Michigan.