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Frances (Grace) Stark

PhD Student in Microbiology (2020-current)

BSc in Biochemistry from University of Texas at Austin


Hi! I’m Grace! I’m a mycologist fascinated by how fungi respond to antagonistic interactions on a molecular-mechanistic level!


The kingdom of fungi has an enormous diversity of NLRs with unknown function and we have yet to describe an immune system within the kingdom of Fungi. I hypothesize that fungal NLRs participate in antagonistic responses like plant and animal NLRs.

I am currently using  Pseudomonas syringae and Neurospora crassa as model systems for fungal recognition of bacteria. P. syringae and N. crassa are both epiphytic organisms that are known to interact antagonistically in vitro (Figure1). Furthermore, N. crassa and P. syringae have been studied in isolation for decades and thus have a plethora of genetic resources.

I first plan to come up with ways to quantify their interactions (Growth, death, Ca2+ signaling, ROS signaling), using microplate reader assays with different dyes and fluorescent tags. I then plan to extend these assays to single-cell reading technologies like flow cytometry for higher throughput.

After these assays are in place I plan to characterize Neurospora crassa NLR KO strains. NLRs suspected to play a role in antagonistic interactions will be studied further to understand their role in fungal biology.


In my free time I love spending time in the forest, naturalizing the California countryside (also tbh scouting for mushrooms to culture and eat!) Please feel free to reach out (email above) with questions, or collaboration inquiries!