Sean O Mara

Postdoctoral Associate - Muehlbauer Lab
Contact me for help with:

Area of Interest: Plant and Fungal genetics and molecular biology; Plant pathogen resistance mechanisms; Pathogen toxin export mechanisms

Education: PhD in Plant and Microbial Biology from the University of Minnesota, 2020


I was born in Fairfield, California and was raised all over the state of Michigan. I attended undergrad at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, MI, which is where I met my wife. We were married in 2014 and both attended the University of Minnesota for our doctorate degrees. We now live on the western side of the Twin Cities and have a 3 year old daughter who keeps us happy and busy. I enjoy playing recreation league sports and have a passion of landscape and nature photography. My family enjoys camping and hiking and takes the opportunity to visit the North Shore whenever we can.

Research: I am currently investigating the over-expression of fungal pathogen resistance mechanisms to fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum in wheat and barley, as well as how stacking multiple resistance mechanisms may aid in the intensity and reliability of resistance. I am also exploring novel genes which may act as sensitivity or resistance factors in a mutagenized population of wheat. This work aims to identify new genes which may involved in pathogen defense or which may cause plants to be more susceptible to infection. Finally, I am conducting a study which aims to visualize the infection stages of Fusarium graminearum on barley and analyze the corresponding barley gene expression patterns at those timepoints.

Publications: O’Mara, S. P., Broz, K., Boenisch, M., Zhong, Z., Dong, Y., and Corby Kistler, H. 2020. The Fusarium graminearum t-SNARE Sso2 is involved in growth, defense, and DON accumulation and virulence. Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 33:888–901.