Marletta campus talk to show how independent research projects can connect

Roger Coda
Dr. Michael Marletta

Dr. Michael Marletta

 

Dr. Michael Marletta, a ’73 SUNY Fredonia graduate and Professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, will give a presentation, “The Path from Making a Biofuel to Rice Blast Disease,” at the Science Center’s Kelly Family Auditorium Room 105 on Thursday, May 4, at 5 p.m.

While undertaking research to discover novel enzymes that act on cellulose, with the goal of ultimately lowering the high cost associated with breaking cellulose down to a biofuel, Dr. Marletta and his research team discovered a specific polysaccharide monooxygenase that is present in pathogenic fungi that causes Rice Blast Disease, which destroys 10 to 35 percent of the world’s rice harvest every year.

Overall results of the former research point the way toward a new generation of safe and selective fungicides for food crops.

“Dr. Marletta's talks are always engaging and insightful; he explains the research so that students have a good understanding of why the work is being done.” - SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Ted Lee. 

In the latter research, Marletta, the Choh Hao and Annie Li Chair in the Molecular Biology of Diseases at UC Berkeley, and his team of biochemists and chemists have identified a fungus that secretes an enzyme that punches holes in the outer layer of rice leaves. Once inside, the fungus grows rapidly and inevitably kills plants that it touches. Perhaps a simple spray could effectively destroy the enzyme’s ability to digest the wall of the plant.

“Dr. Marletta's talks are always engaging and insightful; he explains the research so that students have a good understanding of why the work is being done,” said SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Ted Lee. “As this is a relatively new research area for his lab and his first talk at Fredonia on the topic, it should be a very interesting and informative presentation.”

Marletta has been a member of the Fredonia College Foundation Board of Directors for over 20 years, and is its former Chair. His presentation is free and open to the public.

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