Dr. Trigiano

I came to University of Tennessee as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. In that capacity, I worked on non-zygotic embryogenesis of orchardgrass, a forage grass. At the time, most grass species could not be regenerated in tissue culture, but along with colleagues, we perfected the embryogenic system from leaves. I joined the Department of Ornamental Horticulture in 1987 and worked on dogwoods, redbuds,chrysanthemums, and other plant species as well as dogwood pathogens.  I worked on these projects util I joined The Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology in 2001. Currently, I am an Institute Professor working on genomics, population genetics, propagation of endangered plants, diseases of ornamentals and molecular marker systems for various plants and pathogens. I am also the Associate Director of the Weed Diagnostic Center and the Editor-in-Chief of Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences.

Research Focus

Our research focuses on several projects including the following: Haplotyping Cornus species and Redbud (Cercis canadensis); Genetics of powdery mildew resistance/susceptibility in Cornus species; Genetics of color expression in Cornus florida and C. kousa; Development of propagation systems for endangered plants (Whorled sunflower and Ruth’s Golden Aster); Breeding and pollinator biology of various ornamental plants; Development of molecular markers to assess genetic diversity and populations of various plants and pathogens; and diseases of ornamental plants.

Robert N. Trigiano

Institute Professor
office (865) 974-7135
fax (865) 974-4744

374 Plant Biotechnology Building
2505 EJ Chapman Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-4560

B.S., Biology and Chemistry (Program of Emphasis), Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA
M.S. Biology (Mycology), The Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D. Botany and Plant Pathology (Dual Majors), North Carolina State University

professional appointment
100% Research

Graduate program concentrations
Sustainable Disease and Integrated Pest Management Systems

Areas of expertise
Mycology including Oomycetes, Ornamental Biotechnology and Plant Pathology, Molecular Markers of Plants and Pathogens, and Tissue Culture of Plants


Current lab members

  • Ms. Sarah Boggess MS: Research/Lab Coordinator
  • Dr. Marcin Nowicki: Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Mr. Chris Wyman: Graduate Research Student (MS)
  • Mr. Nick Strange: Graduate Research Student (MS)
  • Undergraduate Student Assistants (3)

Selected Publications

Trigiano, R.N., S.L. Boggess, and B.H. Ownley. 2018.  First report of an aerial blight of Chrysogenum virginianum (green and gold) caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum in the United States. Plant Dis. 102 (1): (In Press). http://dx.doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-08-17-1236-PDN

Trigiano, R. N., S. L. Boggess and K. D. Gwinn. 2018. First report of Cercospora apii s. lat.causing a leaf spot on cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) in the United States. Plant Dis. 102 (1): (In Press). https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-08-17-1275-PDN

Lipi, P.,  M. T. Mmbaga, G. Meru, G. Zhang, L. Mackasmiel, X. Wang, P.A. Wadl, and R.N. Trigiano. 2017.   Quantitative trait loci associated with resistance to powdery mildew in Cornus florida.  Sci. Hort. 226:322-326.

Chandrasekera, B.S.G., H. Fluess, Y.C. Zhao, R. N. Trigiano, and T.Winkelmann. 2017.  In vitro plant regeneration from ovules of Taraxacum officinale and T. koksaghyz. Afr. J. Biotech.  16(34):1764-1775.  DOI: 10.5897/AJB2017.16138.

Brosnan, J. T., J. J. Vargas, G. K. Breeden, S. L. Boggess, M. A. Staton, P. A. Wadl and R. N. Trigiano. 2017. Controlling herbicide resistant annual bluegrass phenotypes with methiozolin. Weed Technology 31:470-476.  DOI.1017/wet.2017.13.

Mantooth, K., D. Hadziabdic, S. Boggess, M. Windham, S. Miller, G. Cai, J. Spatafora, N. Zhang, M. Staton, B. Ownley, and R. Trigiano. 2017. Confirmation of independent introductions of an exotic plant pathogen of Cornus species, Discula destructiva, on the east and west coasts of North America. PLoS ONE 12(7): e0180345. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180345

Reasor, E. H., J. T. Brosnan, M. E. Staton, T. Lane, R. N. Trigiano, P. A. Wadl, J. A. Conner, and B. M. Schwartz. 2017. Genotypic and phenotypic evaluation of off-type grasses in hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodondactylon (L.) Pers. x C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davy) putting greens using genotyping-by-sequencing and morphological characterization.  Hereditas DOI: 10.1186/s41065-017-0043-3.

Rahm, B., B. J. Pearson, R. N. Trigiano, and D. J. Gray. 2016.  The derivation of modern cannabis varieties. Crit. Rev. Plant Sci. 35 (5,6): 328-348. doi.org/10.1080/07352689.2016.1273626

Reasor, E.H., J.T. Brosnan, R. N. Trigiano, J.E. Elsner, G.M. Henry, and B.M. Schwartz. 2016. The genetic and phenotypic variability of hybrid bermudagrasses used on golf course putting greens. Planta 244 (4): 76­1-773. DOI: 10.1007/S00425-016-2573-8.

For complete list of publications please visit my