BS, Wake Forest University
PhD, Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri
Heather Marella joined the Department of Biological Sciences in 2011. Dr. Marella’s teaching responsibilities include General Biology II, Genetics, Plant Physiology and Parasitology. Dr. Marella’s research focuses on the interaction between plants (Arabidopsis thaliana and tomato) and a nematode parasite (Meloidogyne incognita). Meloidogyne incognita is a microscopic roundworm that penetrates the root of a host plant, where it establishes a feeding site; draining the plant of nutrients and altering the structure of the root. These devastating parasites cause an economic loss in the billions annually. Using a combination of genetics, cell and molecular biology, Dr. Marella and her undergraduate students investigate the function of plant transporter genes in establishing and maintaining the parasitic infection. Additional projects examine the role of plant hormones and mycorrhizal fungi in the plant-parasite interaction. Students have the opportunity to present their data at local, regional and national conferences.