Melissa Goellner Mitchum

Melissa Goellner Mitchum

Associate Professor
Division of Plant Sciences

Web site: Mitchum Lab
Office address: 371H Life Sciences Center
Office phone: (573) 882-6152
Fax: (573) 882-6171

Research Interest

The major focus of research in the Mitchum lab is the molecular basis of plant-nematode interactions with an emphasis on the interaction between the soybean cyst nematode (SCN; Heterodera glycines) and its host plant, soybean.


Sedentary endoparasitic nematodes, such as SCN, are the most economically important group of plant-parasitic nematodes. SCN is consistently the most damaging pest of soybeans grown in Missouri and throughout the US, causing nearly 1 billion in crop losses annually.

After penetrating and migrating through soybean root tissue, SCN induces dramatic modifications of selected cells near the vasculature of the root to form an elaborate feeding cell (called a syncytium). Growth and development of the nematode is completely dependent on the formation of the syncytium from which it derives nutrients. We are studying the signal exchange that occurs between the nematode and its host for the formation of feeding cells. In addition to soybean, we use the Arabidopsis-beet cyst nematode pathosystem as a model system to dissect the mechanisms of pathogenesis and feeding cell formation. The aim of this research is to advance our understanding of the molecular basis of pathogenicity and host resistance to cyst nematodes with the long term goal of developing improved disease resistance strategies.

Selected Publications