Dr. Halterman has been involved in a couple of resources to help teach plant pathology and the molecular interactions that occur between hosts and pathogens.
Halterman, D., Hayslett, M. Kartanos, V., and Rouse, D. 2017. Demonstrating concepts of pathogeneists using efectors of Phytophthora infestans. Plant Health Instructor. 10.1094/PHI-T-2017-0610-01
Teaching concepts related to the molecular interactions that occur between plants and pathogens has always been a challenge in introductory biology or plant pathology classes. This exercise is based on our results showing that the potato resistance gene RB specifically recognizes the presence of the Phytophthora infestans effector IPI-O1. The result of this interaction is a visible hypersensitive cell death response. The sequence-related P. infestans effector IPI-O4 is able to suppress this resistance response, resulting in no visible cell death. Using the classroom knowledge on resistance gene/effector recognition, and with no knowledge of the suppressive ability of IPI-O4, the students hypothesize what will happen when IPI-O4 is introduced along with IPI-O1 in RB-transgenic plants.
Hirsch, R.L., Miller, S., and Halterman, D. 2018. An inquiry-based investigation of bacterial soft rot of potato. The American Biology Teacher. 80: 594-599.
This paper outlines an exercise designed for middle school or high school science classrooms. Using store-bought potatoes students can grow their own cultures of soft rot bacteria and test the ability of this plant pathogen to infect potatoes under different environmental conditions, or to infect other plants. The exercise can be a little bit on the stinky and 'icky' side, but is very effective in teaching the core concepts surrounding plant pathology. Dr. Lou Hirsch and I, in collaboration with schoolteacher Seth Miller, published this exercise in The American Biology Teacher journal in 2018.
Using this published exercise as a starting point, we have worked with PlantingScience to develop a teaching module. This is currently a work in progress, but we hope that it is made available to everyone soon.