Research: Drew Fister

Brief description of cacao research by Drew Fister as part of the Guiltinan Lab.

Drew joined the Guiltinan Lab in 2012. He defended his Ph.D. thesis in 2016 and is now a post-doc in the lab. His dissertation focused on the genetics and transcriptomics of the defense response in cacao. Drew is interested in evolution of the defense response and studying how genetic diversity interacts with immunity in cacao.

Fister Research

Part of Drew’s thesis focused on characterization of the pathogenesis-related (PR) genes in T. cacao. The figure above depicts expression of cacao’s PR genes in plants inoculated with two pathogens compared to a water-treated control.
His current scientific interests include:

  • Examination of genetic diversity in defense genes in geographically separated populations of cacao in South America.
  • Applying CRISPR/Cas9 strategy for application in studying gene function in cacao. 
  • Improving understanding of the specific defense response of trees to diverse pathogen species
  • He recently traveled to Cote d’Ivoire to assist with a large-scale experiment measuring the transcriptomic response of resistant and susceptible cacao seedlings to P. megakarya (pictured)Drew in Cote d'Ivoire