Maria Torres

Maria Fernanda Torres

Assistant Professor Educator

Rieveschl Hall


A&S Biological Sciences - 0006

Professional Summary

Plant and fungal functional genomics and transcriptomics; Cellular and molecular regulation of plant-pathogenic interactions; Comparative genomics; Plant sex-chromosome evolution


Ph.D: University of Kentucky Lexington, KY, 2013 (Plant Pathology)

B.S: Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Bogota, Colombia, 2006 (Microbiology)

Research and Practice Interests

Dr. Maria Fernanda Torres has focused her carreer on the study of plant and fungal genomics. She has participated in various genome and transcriptome sequencing projects which has provided her with a comprehensive knowledge and familiarity of plant and microbial physiology and metabolism. Early during her career, she focused on the  study of the cellular and molecular aspects that regulate plant-microbe interactions. Her research involved the use of microscopy, molecular biology and bioinformatic tools, to understand the role of the genome and the transcriptome in the successful establishment of plant pathogenic interactions. As a postdoctoral researcher at Weill Cornell Medicine in Qatar, she focused on the utilization of different sequencing platforms, comparative genomics and bioinformatic tools to study plant genome evolution. Her research is is currently focused on understanding the mechanisms that regulate microbe and plant interactions with their environment and how these interactions affect the vegetative and reproductive development of plants. 

Positions and Work Experience

07-01-2013 -09-30-2016 Postdoctoral Researcher, Postdoctoral trainee in the Functional Genomics Laboratory, studying origin and evolution of plant sex chromosomes, Weill Cornell Medicine, Doha, Qatar


Peer Reviewed Publications

Buiate, E.A., Xavier, K.V., Moore, N. Torres, M.F., Farman, M.L., Schardl, C.L., Vaillancourt, L.J (2017. ) A comparative genomics analysis of putative pathogenicity genes in two host-specific Colletotrichum sibling species.BMC genomics, , 18 (67 ) , More Information

Torres, M.F., Ghaffari, N., Buiate, E.A, Moore, N., Schwartz, S., Johnson, C., Vaillancour,t L.J (2016. ) A Colletotrichum graminicola mutant deficient in the establishment of biotrophy reveals early transcriptional events in the maize anthracnose disease interaction. .BMC genomics, , 17 (1 ) , More Information

Diboun, I., Mathew S., Al-Rayyashi, M., Elrayess, M., Torres, M.F., Halama, A., Méret, M., Mohney, R., Karoly, E., Malek, J.A., Suhre, K (2015. ) Metabolomics of dates (Phoenix dactylifera) reveals a highly dynamic ripening process accounting for major variation in fruit composition.BMC Plant Biology, , 15 (1 ) , More Information

Mathew, L. S., Seidel, M. A., George, B., Mathew, S., Spannagl, M., Haberer, G., Torres, M.F., Al-Dous, E.M., Al-Azwani, E.K., Diboun, I., Krueger, R. R., Mayer, K.F., Mohamoud, Y.A., Suhre, K., Malek, J.A (2015. ) A genome-wide survey of date palm cultivars supports two major subpopulations in Phoenix dactylifera.G3: Genes| Genomes| Genetics , , 5 (7 ) ,1429-1438 More Information

Torres, M. F., Cuadros, D. F., & Vaillancourt, L. J. (2014. ) Evidence for a diffusible factor that induces susceptibility in the Colletotrichum–maize disease interaction.Molecular Plant Pathology, , 5 (1 ) ,80–93 More Information

Mathew, L. S., Spannagl, M., Al-Malki, A., George, B., Torres, M. F., Al-Dous, E. K., Al-Azwani, E.K., Hussein, E., Mathew, S., Mayer, K.F., Mohamoud, Y.A., Suhre, K., Malek, J.A (2014. ) A first genetic map of date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) reveals long-range genome structure conservation in the palms.BMC Genomics, , 15 (1 ) , More Information

O'Connell RJ, Thon MR, Hacquard S, Amyotte SG, Kleemann J, Torres MF, Damm U, Buiate EA, Epstein L, Alkan N, Altmuller J, Alvarado-Balderrama L, Bauser CA, Becker C, Birren BW, Chen Z, Choi J, Crouch JA, Duvick JP, Farman MA, Gan P, Heiman D, Henrissat B, Howard RJ, Kabbage M, Koch C, Kracher B, Kubo Y, Law AD, Lebrun MH, Lee YH, Miyara I, Moore N, Neumann U, Nordstrom K, Panaccione DG, Panstruga R, Place M, Proctor RH, Prusky D, Rech G, Reinhardt R, Rollins JA, Rounsley S, Schardl CL, Schwartz DC, Shenoy N, Shirasu K, Sikhakolli UR, Stuber K, Sukno SA, Sweigard JA, Takano Y, Takahara H, Trail F, van der Does HC, Voll LM, Will I, Young S, Zeng Q, Zhang J, Zhou S, Dickman MB, Schulze-Lefert P, Ver Loren van Themaat E, Ma LJ, Vaillancourt LJ. (2012. ) Lifestyle transitions in plant pathogenic Colletotrichum fungi deciphered by genome and transcriptome analyses.Nature Genetics, , 44 (9 ) ,1060–1065 More Information

Cuadros, D.F., Hernandez, A., Torres, M.F., Torres, D.M., Rincon, D.F. (2017. ) Vector Transmission Alone Fails to Explain the Potato Yellow Vein Virus Epidemic among Potato Crops in Colombia.Frontiers in Plant Science, , 8 ,1654 More Information

Torres, M. F., Mathew, L.S., Ahmed, I., Al-Azwani, I.K., Krueger, R., Rivera, D., Mohamoud, Y.A., Clark, A.G., Suhre, K., Malek, J.A (2018. ) Genus-wide sequencing supports a two-locus model for sex-determination in Phoenix.Nature Communications, , 9 (1 ) ,3969 More Information

Mohamoud, Y. A., Mathew, L. S., Torres, M. F., Younuskunju, S., Krueger, R., Suhre, K., & Malek (2019. ) Novel subpopulations in date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) identified by population-wide organellar genome sequencing.BMC Genomics, , 20 (1 ) ,498 More Information

Book Chapter

1. Crouch J., O’Connell R., Gan P., Buiate E., Torres M. F., Berin L., Shirasu K., Vaillancourt, L.J. (2014 ) The genomics of Colletotrichum In Genomics of Plant-Associated Fungi: Monocot Pathogens .(pp. 69-102).Springer Berlin Heidelberg

Honors and Awards

2014 Best Student Paper Prize British Society for Plant Pathology - BSPP British Society for Plant Patholgy Status:Recipient


National Science Foundation (GRFP ) Review Board/Panel Type:Grant Panel 2019

Courses Taught

BIOL 2085C: Cell Biology

BIOL 3027: Intro to Biotechnology

BIOL 4091C: Biotechnology Lab Methods

BIOL 4025C: Plant Physiology

BIOL 8052: Visual Comm. in Science

Contact Information

Phone: 5135569732