Dr. Trigiano

I came to the 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 until 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 and Acting Department Head
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
96% Research, 4% Teaching

Graduate program concentrations
Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Molecular Interactions
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 L. Boggess MS: Research/Lab Coordinator
  • Dr. Marcin Nowicki: Research Assisstant Professor
  • Dr. Marzena Nowakowska: Postdoctoral Research Associate
  • Ms. Michelle Odoi MS: Ph.D. Student
  • Ms. Zaklina Pavlovic MS: Ph.D. Student
  • Ms. Trinity Hamm BS: MS Student

Selected Publications

Trigiano, R. N., H. Dominguez-McLaughlin, C. Lawton, K. D. Gwinn, and S. L. Boggess. 2020. First report of Cercospora species causing a leaf spot on the whorled sunflower, Helianthus verticillatus, in the United States. Plant Dis. (Accepted)

Edwards, T. P., R. N. Trigiano, B. H. Ownley, A. S. Windham, C. R. Wyman, P. A. Wadl, and D. Hadziabdic. 2020. Genetic diversity and conservation status of Helianthus verticillatus, an endangered sunflower of the southern United States. Front. Genet. (Accepted).

Wadl, P. A., R. N. Trigiano, S. Boggess, K. Harris-Shultz, L. H. Williams, III, and G. T. McQuate. 2020. Development and characterization of microsatellites from the sweetpotato weevil, Cylas formicarius elegantulus. J. Appl. Entomology. (Accepted).

Ding, J., Y. Li, R. McAvoy, R. N. Trigiano, J. Huang, T. Gu, H. Wu. X. Wang S. Lin, and D. Liu. 2020. Evolution and roles of cytokinin genes in angiosperms 2: Ancient CKYx play housekeeping while non-ancient CKSx play regulatory roles? Hort. Res. (Accepted).

Ding, J., Y. Li, R. McAvoy, R. Trigiano, J. Huang, T. Gu, H. Wu, X. Wang, S. Lin, and D. Liu. 2020. Evolution and roles of genes involved in cytokinin metabolism in angiosperms. Do ancient CKXs play a housekeeping role while non-ancient CKXs are more involved in regulation of organ development and abiotic stress adaptation in angiosperms? Hort. Res. (Accepted).

Ony, M.A., M. Nowicki, S.L. Boggess. W.E. Klingeman, J. M. Zobel, R. N. Trigiano and D. Hadziabcic. 2020. The effect of habitat fragmentation on genetic diversity and differentiation: Fine-scale population structure of Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud). Ecol. Evol. (Accepted).

Chaffin, A., M. Dee, S. Boggess, R. Trigiano, E. Bernard, and K. Gwinn. 2020. First report of Chaetomium globosum causing a leaf spot of hemp (Cannabis sativa). Plant Dis. (Accepted).

*Wyman, C.R., D. Hadziabdic, S. L. Boggess. T. A. Rinehart, A. S. Windham, P. A. Wadl, and R. N. Trigiano. 2019. Low genetic diversity suggests the recent introduction of dogwood powdery mildew to North America. Plant Dis.103(11):2903-2912. https://apsjournals.apsnet.org/doi/10.1094/PDIS-01-19-0051-RE?ai=rs&ui=1ge&af=T

Li, Y., X.-L. Hu, R. N. Trigiano, H. Adwinckle, W. Srmack, G. Y. Zhong, and Z.-M. (Max) Cheng. 2019. Evaluation of apple cultivars for resistance to Alternaria blotch caused by Alternaria alternata apple pathogtype and fire blight. HortScience 54:1268-1274.

*Nowicki, M., E.E. Schilling, S. L. Boggess, L.C. Houston, M. L. Huff, M. E. Staton, J. Lampley, and R. N. Trigiano. 2019. Characterization of genic microsatellite loci and genetic diversity analysis for the ornamental plant green and gold (Chrysogonum virginianum L.). HortScience 54(2): 395-400.

*Nowicki, M., Y. Zhao, S.L. Boggess, H. Fluess, M.P. Milans, M. Staton, L.C. Houston, D. Hadziabdic, R.N. Trigiano. 2019. Genomic microsatellites from Taraxacum kok-saghyz reveal lack of population structure and modest species diversity, broadly cross-amplifies other Taraxacum species and related genera, and provides evidence for population structure within the North American polyploid dandelions. Scientific Rpts. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-38532-8.

*Klingeman, III, W.E., E. C. Bernard, S. L. Boggess, G. M. Pietsch, D. Hadziabdic, and R. N. Trigiano. 2019. First report of honeysuckle leaf blight on Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) caused by Insolibasidium deformans in Tennessee. Plant Dis. 103(4): 772. https://doi.org/10.1094/PDIS-10-18-1712-PDN

Wadl, P.A., B. M. Mack, S. B. Beltz, G. G. Moore, R. E. Baird, T. A. Rinehart, T. J. Molnar, M. E. Staton, D. Hadziabdic, and R. N. Trigiano. 2019. Development of genomic resources for the powdery mildew, Erysiphe pulchra. Plant Dis. 103(5):804-807. 10.1094/PDIS-05-18-0719-A

For complete list of publications please visit my