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Patricia Okubara

Research Geneticist (Plants), USDA-ARS/ Adjunct Professor

Patricia Okubara
Office: Johnson Hall 333
Lab: Vogel Plant BioScience 325

Tel.: (509)335-7824
Fax: (509)335-7674

Research Specialty and Interests

Dr. Patricia (Pat) Okubara is a plant molecular biologist with a keen interest in plant-microbe interactions. The focus of her research is to uncover and understand the action of plant genes that govern interactions with beneficial and pathogenic microbes. The goals of this research are to enhance the resistance of dryland crops, such as wheat, to fungal root pathogens, and to enhance the ability of crop plants to establish and maintain interactions with beneficial bacteria. Using a combination of genomics, genetic and biochemical approaches, Dr. Okubara is examining host genetic variation in colonization by pseudomonad biological control agents and tolerance to fungal root pathogens. Her laboratory is identifying and characterizing specific plant genes that are involved in root defense pathways.

Professional Experience

  • 1997-2001 Postdoctoral Associate, USDA ARS, Western Regional Research Center, Albany, CA
  • 1995-1997 Visiting Scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, University of California, Davis
  • 1992-1995 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Vegetable Crops, University of California, Davis


  • American Society of Plant Biologists
  • American Phytopathological Society

Selected Publications

  • Okagaki LH, CC, Sailsbery J, Clay B, Brown D, John T, Oh Y, Young N, Fitzgerald M, Haas BJ, Zeng Q, Young S, Adiconis X, Fan L, Levin JZ, Mitchell TK, Okubara PA, Farman ML, Kohn LM, Birren B, Ma L-J, Dean RA (2015). Genome sequences of three phytopathogenic species of the Magnaporthaceae family of fungi. Genes, Genomes, Genetics (G3), Early Online. doi 10.1534/g3.115.020057
  • Okubara PA, Leston NL, Micknass U, Kogel K-H, Imani J. Rapid quantitative assessment of Rhizoctonia resistance in roots of selected wheat and barley genotypes (2015). Plant Dis, First Look.
  • Bruner EA, Okubara PA, Abi-Ghanem R, Brown DJ, Reardon CL (2015) Use of pressure cycling technology for cell lysis and recovery of bacterial and fungal communities from soil. BioTechniques 58: 171-180.
  • Fuerst EP, Okubara PA, Anderson JV, Morris CT (2014) PPO as a biochemical seed defense mechanism. Frontiers in Plant Sci 5:689. (Invited review with original data)
  • Okubara PA, Dickman MB, Blechl AE (2014) Molecular and genetic aspects of controlling the soilborne necrotrophic pathogens Rhizoctonia and Pythium. Plant Sci 128: 61-70.
  • Okubara PA, Schroeder KL, Abatzoglou JT, Paulitz TC (2014) Agroecological factors correlated to soil DNA concentrations of Rhizoctonia in dryland wheat production zones of Washington state, USA. Phytopathology 104: 683-691.
  • Sikdar P, Okubara P, Mazzola M, Xiao CL (2013) Development of PCR assays for diagnosis and detection of the pathogens Phacidiopycnis washingtonensis and Sphaeropsis pyriputrescens in apple fruit. Plant Dis 98: 241-246.
  • Yan G, Smiley RW, Okubara PA, Skantar A (2013) Species-specific PCR assays for differentiating Heterodera filipjevi and H. avenae. Plant Dis 97: 1611-1616.
  • Okubara PA, Harrison LA, Gatch E, Vandemark G, Schroeder KL, du Toit L (2013) Development and evaluation of a TaqMan real-time PCR assay for Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. spinaciae. Plant Dis 97: 927-937.
  • Yan G, Smiley RW, Okubara PA, Skantar AM, Reardon CL (2013) Developing a real-time PCR assay for detection and quantification of Pratylenchus neglectus in soil. Plant Dis 97: 757-764.
  • Schroeder KL, Martin FN, De Cock AWAM, Lévesque CA and Spies CFJ, Okubara PA and Paulitz TC (2013) Molecular detection and quantification of Pythium species—evolving taxonomy, new tools, and challenges. Plant Dis 97: 4-20. (Review)
  • Mavrodi OV, Walter N, Elateek S, Taylor CG, Okubara PA (2012) Suppression of Rhizoctonia and Pythium root rot of wheat by new strains of Pseudomonas. Biol Cont 62: 93–102.
  • Maketon C, Fortuna A-M, Okubara PA (2012) Cultivar-dependent transcript accumulation in wheat roots colonized by Pseudomonas fluorescens Q8r1-96 wild type and mutant strains. Biol Cont 60: 216-224.
  • Bennypaul HS, Mutti J, Kumar N, Rustgi S, Okubara PA, Gill KS (2011) Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) of genes expressed in root, leaf and meiotic tissues of wheat. Funct Integrat Genomics. DOI 10.1007/s10142-011-0245-0.
  • Okubara PA, Jones SS (2011) Seedling resistance to Rhizoctonia and Pythium in wheat chromosome group 4 addition lines from Thinopyrum spp. Can J Plant Pathol 33: 415-422.
  • Okubara PA, Call DR, Kwak Y, Skinner DZ. (2010) Induction of defense gene homologues in wheat roots during interactions with Pseudomonas fluorescens. Biol. Cont 55: 118–125.
  • Okubara PA, Steber CM, DeMacon VL, Walter, NL, Paulitz TC, Kidwell, KK (2009) EMS-treated hexaploid wheat genotype Scarlet has enhanced tolerance to the soilborne necrotrophic pathogens Rhizoctonia solani AG-8 and R. oryzae. Theor. Appl. Genet. 119(2): 293-303.
  • Yan G, Smiley RW, Okubara PA, Skantar A, Easley SA, Sheedy JG, Thompson AL (2008) Detection and discrimination of Pratylenchus neglectus and P. thornei in DNA extracts from soil. Plant Disease 92(11): 1480-1487.
  • Okubara PA, Bonsall RF (2008) Accumulation of Pseudomonas-derived 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol on wheat seedling roots is influenced by host cultivar. Biol Cont 46(3): 322-331.
  • Okubara PA, Schroeder KL, Paulitz TC (2008) Identification and quantification of Rhizoctonia solani and R. oryzae using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Phytopathology, 98(7): 837-847.
  • Okubara PA, Li C, Schroeder KL, Schumacher RT, Lawrence NP (2007). Improved extraction of Rhizoctonia and Pythium DNA from wheat roots and soil samples using pressure cycling technology. Can J Plant Pathol 29: 304-310.
  • Paulitz TC, Okubara PA, Schillinger WF (2006) First report of damping-off of canola caused by Rhizoctonia solani AG 2-1 in Washington State. Plant Dis. 90: 829.
  • Schroeder KL, Okubara PA, Tambong JT, Lévesque CA, Paulitz TC (2006) Identification and quantification of pathogenic Pythium spp. from soils in eastern Washington using real-time PCR. Phytopathology 96: 637-647.
  • Skinner DZ, Okubara PA, Baek K-H, Call DR (2005) Long oligonucleotide microarrays in wheat: evaluation of hybridization signal amplification and an oligonucleotide-design computer script. Func. Integ. Genomics 5: 70-79.
  • Okubara PA, Paulitz TC (2005) Root defense responses to fungal pathogens: a molecular perspective. Plant Soil 274(1): 215-226.