Charles Després: Associate Professor, Biological Sciences
Research: Plant proteomics and molecular pathology
Charles Després dreams of a land with cleaner soil and water and where plants rely on their own immune system, instead of harmful chemicals, to resist disease.
Després’ research focuses on understanding the molecular aspects of disease resistance in plants, and in particular, in grapevines. As a specialist in plant signal transduction and gene regulation, he studies how plant cells perceive invading pathogens in an attempt to warn them off.
His ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of pesticides used in conventional agriculture, which will result in cleaner soils, less polluted water, and safer food. His approach is to identify novel genes or gene functions involved in the plant immune system.
The knowledge gained through Dr. Després’ quest serves two main purposes. First, the identification of novel gene functions will allow him to assist plant breeders in identifying naturally occurring gene variations that display enhanced resistance to disease. Second, the intimate knowledge of gene functions will allow his group to identify natural products harmless to the environment and with the ability to boost a plant’s own immune system, which would resist pathogens without the need for pesticides.