Randall J. Wisser


  • Postdoctoral Associate 2006-2008 Mentors: Dr. Peter Balint-Kurti, Plant Pathology and Dr. James Holland, Department of Crop Science, NCSU, Raleigh, NC
  • Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics 2006 Cornell University, Ithaca, NY Dissertation: The genetic architecture of quantitative resistance in the cereals.
  • B.S. in Biological Science 2000 Florida International University, Miami, FL Honors thesis: Analysis of heterokaryon formation in Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense.

Current Courses

  • Transmission Genetics
  • Genetic Data Analysis


  • Quantitative trait variation, which is generally controlled by multiple genes with small and cumulative effects, is the rule rather than the exception in nature. I am fundamentally interested in contributing to understanding the genetic and mechanistic basis of quantitative trait variation and how this may leverage crop improvement. My research projects use population genetic-, genomic-, and bioinformatic-based approaches to address questions in plant genetics and breeding. The themes of my investigations converge on elucidating the genetic architecture of plant quantitative disease resistance in the grasses with a special focus on maize and its diseases. Currently, there are three emphasized topics of research in my lab: (i) development of methods for understanding population improvement from short-term selection, (ii) analysis of single and multiple disease resistance, and (iii) extending quantitative genetics methods to study natural plant pathogen variation.

Recent Publications

Wisser, R. J., J. M. Kolkman, M. E. Patzoldt, J. B. Holland, J. Yu, M. Krakowsky, R. J. Nelson, and P. J. Balint-Kurti (2011) Multivariate analysis of maize disease resistances suggests a pleiotropic genetic basis and implicates a glutathione S-transferase gene. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A.  doi:10.1073/pnas.1011739108.

Wisser, R. J., P. J. Balint-Kurti and J. B. Holland (2011) A novel genetic framework for studying response to artificial selection. Plant Genetic Resources  doi:10.1017/S1479262111000359.

Kump, K. L., P. J. Bradbury, R. J. Wisser, E. S. Buckler, A. R. Belcher, M. A. Oropeza-Rosas, J. C. Zwonitzer, S. Kresovich, M. D. McMullen, D. Ware, P. J. Balint-Kurti, and J. B. Holland (2011) Genome-wide association study of quantitative resistance to southern leaf blight in the maize nested association mapping population. Nature Genetics 43:163–168.

*commentary on Kump et al: Haley, C. (2011) A cornucopia of maize genes. Nature Genetics 43:87–88.

Wisser, R. J. (2010) Maize: Durable Resistance Breeding. In D. R. Heldman, D. G. Hoover, and M. B. Wheeler (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Biotechnology in Agriculture and Food. (pp. 375–380) Taylor and Francis Group LLC, New York, NY.

Poland, J. A., P. J. Balint-Kurti, R. J. Wisser, R. C. Pratt, and R. J. Nelson (2009) Shades of gray: the world of quantitative disease resistance. Trends Plant Science 14: 21–29.

Wisser, R. J., S. C. Murray, J. M. Kolkman, H. Ceballos, and R. J. Nelson (2008) Selection mapping of loci for quantitative disease resistance in a diverse maize population. Genetics 180:583–599.

Balint-Kurti, P. J., R. Wisser, and J. C. Zwonitzer (2008) Use of an advanced intercross line population for precise mapping of quantitative trait loci for gray leaf spot resistance in maize. Crop Science 48:1696–1704.

Balint-Kurti, P. J., C. Zwonitzer, R. J. Wisser, M. Carson, M. A. Oropeza-Rosas, J. B. Holland, and S. J. Szalma (2007) Precise mapping of quantitative trait loci for resistance to southern leaf blight, caused by Cochliobolus heterostrophus race O, using an advanced intercross maize population. Genetics 176:645–657.

Wisser, R. J., P. J. Balint-Kurti, and R. J. Nelson (2006) The genetic architecture of disease resistance in maize: a synthesis of published studies. Phytopathology 96: 120–129.

Wisser, R. J., Q. Sun, S. H. Hulbert, S. Kresovich, and R. J. Nelson (2005) Identification and characterization of regions of the rice genome associated with broad-spectrum, quantitative disease resistance. Genetics169:2277–2293.

Monosi, B., R. J. Wisser, L. Pennill, and S. H. Hulbert (2004) Full-genome analysis of resistance gene homologues in rice. Theoretical and Applied Genetics 109:1434–1447.

Brown, J. S., D. Kuhn, R. Wisser, E. Power, and R. Schnell (2004) Quantification of sources of variation and accuracy of sequence discrimination in a replicated microarray experiment. Biotechniques 36:324–332.


Contact Information
Randall J. Wisser

Assistant Professor of Plant Genetics

Plant and Soil Sciences
163 Townsend Hall (office)
304 Worrilow Hall (lab)
Newark, DE 19716
Phone: (302) 831-1356

Email: rjw@udel.edu