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Nancy Wahl

Nancy Wahl

Advisor: Dr. Seth Murray

Department of Soil and Crop Sciences


  1. B.A. Biology, Concordia College Bronxville, NY
  2. M.S., Human Genetics, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health


Entered the program in 2013.

Research Project:

My research is concerned with the highly toxic and carcinogenic aflatoxin contamination in maize infected with Aspergillus flavus, and the identification of genetic components of resistance to its production. Two different approaches are taken to identify the genetic component that include: 1. Test for maize hybrids that exhibit greater resistance to aflatoxin production than others, while retaining desirable agronomic traits as revealed by a meta-analysis of multi-environmental trials, and 2. Test for genes that are significantly differentially expressed (DE) in the kernels of one resistant inbred in response to different methods of inoculation with A. flavus or no inoculation and harvested at different maturities. These analyses are expected to result in: 1. Identification of a small number of hybrids that reliably outperform most in low aflatoxin and yield across diverse environments and inoculation methodologies, and 2. Identification of maize genes involved in the pathogenic response or affect the synthesis/inhibition of aflatoxin production through RNA-Seq analysis, some of which were found to co-localize with QTL. 

Broad Impacts of Research Project:

 Signal promising maize inbreds and hybrids that exhibit consistent desirable agronomic traits that will mitigate the high costs of testing and disposing of contaminated grain in the developed world, or provide viable alternatives to susceptible, low-yielding germplasm in developing nations that are at high risk for exposure to disease resulting from contamination. Also, contribute to the growing database of specific genes contributing to pathogenic response, and inhibition of aflatoxin synthesis.