Cynthia Gleason

Cynthia Gleason

Associate Professor 509-335-3742 Plant Sciences Building 1772 NE Stadium Way

Research Specialty and Interests

My research centers around plant parasitic nematodes and primarily focuses on root-knot nematodes and their interactions with host plants. These small roundworms are soil borne pathogens with a broad host range. They infect plant roots and can cause damage that affects water and nutrient uptake. As a result, root-knot nematodes cause billions of dollars in crop losses each year. In order to develop new strategies to combat nematodes, my group studies the genetic components of the nematode that allow it to manipulate plant signaling pathways and successfully infect plants. One focus of study is on the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne chitwoodi, a serious pathogen of potatoes in the region. We are interested in identifying novel M. chitwoodi pathogenicity genes required for successful potato infection and in dissecting the defense responses triggered during infection of resistant potato. My lab uses a variety of experimental approaches, such as gene expression analyses, generation and characterization of transgenic plants, and heterologous expression of nematode genes in bacteria, to increase our knowledge of the plant/nematode interaction at the molecular level.

Professional Experience and Activities


  • Associate professor, Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University (2022-present)
  • Assistant professor, Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University (2016-2022)
  • Jr Professor, Department of Plant Molecular Biology and Physiology, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany (2011-2016)
  • Post-doctoral fellow, Plant Industry, CSIRO, Perth, Australia (2006-2010)
  • Post-doctoral fellow, Disease and Stress Biology, John Innes Centre, Norwich UK (2003-2006)
  • Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Davis, USA (2003)


  • Rutter, W.R., Franco, J., Gleason, C. (2022)“Rooting out the mechanisms of plant-nematode interactions.” Annual Review of Phytopathology202260:1.
  • Zhang L. and Gleason, C. (2021) “Transcriptome analyses of pre-parasitic and Parasitic Meloidogyne ChitwoodiRace 1 to identify putative effector genes,” Journal of Nematology, 53:e2021-84.
  • Bali, S., Zhang, L., Franco, J., Gleason, C. (2021)Biotechnological advances with applicability in potatoes for resistance against root-knot nematodes,” Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 70: 226-233.
  • Bali S., Hu S., Vining V., Brown C., Mojtahedi H., Zhang L., Gleason C., Sathuvalli V. (2021) “Nematode genome Announcement: Draft genome of Meloidogyne chitwoodi, an economically important pest of potato in the Pacific Northwest.” Molecular Plant Microbe Interactions, 34(8):981-986.
  • Zhang, L. and Gleason C. (2020) “Enhancing potato resistance against root-knot nematodes using plant elicitors delivered by bacteria.” Nature Plants, 6:625–629
  • Bali, S., Vining, K., Gleason, C., Majtahedi, H., Brown, C.R., and Vidyasagar S. (2019) “Differential gene expression analysis provides insights into salicylic acid mediated resistance response to Meloidogyne chitwoodi derived from Mexican wild potato species Solanum bulbocastanum,” BMC Genomics, 20(1):907.
  • Aharen, I., Habash, S.H., Gleason, C., Inada, M., Grundler, F.M.W. and Elashry, A. (2019) “Heterodera schachtii glutathione peroxidase (HsGPx) is a parasitism protein, Journal of Plant Disease and Protection, 1-8, DOI 10.1007/s41348-019-00256-2
  • Vieira, P. and Gleason, C. (2019) “Plant-parasitic nematode effectors – insights into their diversity and new tools for their identification.” Current Opinion in Plant Biology, 50:37-43.
  • Zasada, I., Dandurand, LM, Gleason, C., Hagerty, C., Ingham, R. “Plant-parasitic nematodes of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington (Pacific Northwest),” Book chapter in Parasitic Nematodes in Sustainable Agriculture of North America, editors Sergei Subbotin and John Chitamber, June 2018.
  • Lei Zhang and Gleason, C. (2019) “Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification for the Detection of Meloidogyne chitwoodi and M. fallax.” Plant Disease, DOI:10.1094/PDIS-01-18-0093-RE
  • Leelarasamee, N., Zhang, L., and Gleason, C. (2018) “The root-knot nematode effector MiPFN3 disrupts plant actin filaments and promotes parasitism” PLOS Pathogens 14(3): e1006947.
  • Jauregui E, Du L, GleasonC, Poovaiah BW. (2017) “Frontiers in Plant Science. 2017;8(1921).
  • Jauregui E, Du L, GleasonC, and Poovaiah BW. (2017) “Autophosphorylation of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase (CCaMK) at S343 or S344 generates an intramolecular interaction blocking the CaM-binding.” Plant Signaling and Behavior. Jul 3;12(7):e1343779.
  • Habash S.S., Radakovic Z.S., Vankova R., Siddique S., Dobrev P., GleasonC., Grundler FMW, and Elashry A. (2017) “Heterodera schachtii Tyrosinase-like protein – a novel nematode effector modulating plant hormone homeostasis,” Scientific Reports, 7(1):6874.
  • Gleason C., Polzin F., Habash S.S., Zhang L., Utermark J., Grundler F.M., and Elashry A. (2017)Identification of two Meloidogyne hapla genes and an investigation of their roles in the plant-nematode interaction,” Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 30(2), 101-112
  • Gleason, C., Leelarasamee, N., Meldau. D., and I. Feussner (2016) “OPDA has key role in regulating plant susceptibility to the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne haplain Arabidopsis”. Front Plant Sci,
  • C. Foley, C. A. Gleason, J.P. Anderson, T. Hamann, and K. B. Singh (2013)Genetic and Genomic analysis of Rhizoctonia solaniInteractions with Arabidopsis; Evidence of Resistance mediated through NADPH Oxidases.“ PLOS ONE, 8(2):e56814.
  • Gleason, C., Huang, S., Thatcher, L.F., Foley, R.C., Anderson, C.R., Caroll, A.J., Millar, A.H., and K. B. Singh (2011) “Complex II has a key role in production of mitochondrial-derived reactive oxygen species influencing plant stress gene regulation and defence.” Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 108(26):10768-73.
  • Gleason, C.,Foley, R.C., and K. B. Singh (2011) “Mutant Analysis in Arabidopsis Provides Insight into the Molecular Mode of Action of the Auxinic Herbicide Dicamba.” PLOS ONE6(3): e17245.
  • Anderson, J. P., Lichtenzveig, J., Gleason, C., Oliver, R. P., and K. B. Singh (2010) “The B-3 ethylene response factor MtERF1-1 mediates resistance to a subset of root pathogens in Medicago truncatula without adversely affecting symbiosis with rhizobia.” Plant Physiol154(2):861-873.
  • C.A. Gleason, Q. L. Liu, and V. M. Williamson (2008) “Silencing a Candidate Nematode Effector Gene Corresponding to the Tomato Resistance Gene Mi-1Leads to Acquisition of Virulence.“ Mol Plant Microbe Interact.21(5):576-85.
  • Gleason C, Chaudhuri S, Yang T, Munoz-Gutierrez A, Poovaiah BW, and GED Oldroyd (2006) “Nodulation independent of rhizobia induced by a calcium-activated kinase lacking autoinhibition.“ Nature.441(7097):1149-52.
  • Kalo P, Gleason C, Edwards A, Marsh , Mitra RM, Hirsch S, Jakab J, Sims S, Long SR, Rogers J, Kiss GB, Dowine JA, and GED Oldroyd (2005) “Nodulaton signaling in legumes requires NSP2, a member of the GRAS family of transcriptional regulators.“ Science308(5729):1786-9.
  • Mitra M, Gleason CA, Edwards A, Hadfield J, Downie JA, Oldroyd GE, and SR Long(2005) ”A Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase required for symbiotic nodule development: Gene identification by transcript-based cloning.“ Proc Natl Acad Sci USA101(13):4701-5.
  • Williamson, V. M. and C. A. Gleason(2003). “Plant-nematode interactions.” Curr Opin Plant Biol6(4): 327-333.