Ph.D. (Plant Pathology), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1988
M.S. (Biometry), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1987
M.S. (Plant Pathology), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1985
B.S. (Biology/Pathology), St. Olaf College, 1981
Areas of Interest
Epidemiology and Ecology of Plant Diseases
Research in my laboratory is focused on the ecology of plant-associated micro-organisms, especially antibiotic-producing bacteria, in native prairie and in agricultural soils. Antibiotics are hypothesized to confer a selective advantage to the producer when competition is important to microbial fitness. Antibiotic-producing microbes can also have significant negative effects on soil-borne plant pathogens, and can enhance plant fitness. Our work is directed to identifying factors that influence the frequency and intensity of such activities within the soil-borne streptomycete community. We have recently quantified the genetic and phenotypic diversity of antibiotic-producing streptomycetes in native prairie soils, and in prairie soils that have been subjected to enrichments in nitrogen or atmospheric CO2.me. In native prairie soils, we have also been evaluating the hypothesis that some plant species actively enrich the indigenous antibiotic-producing bacteria as a means of protecting themselves from soil-borne plant pathogens (protective mutualism). In addition, using both experimental and modeling work, we have been studying the co-evolutionary dynamics of inhibition and resistance among soil-borne microbes, and the influences of genetic relatedness, spatial proximity, and nutrient utilization on the probability of inhibition among streptomycetes. In agricultural soils, we have been using green manures to alter the naturally-occurring soil-borne microbial populations in an effort to enhance indigenous pathogen inhibitory activity. Using this approach, we have been successful in significantly reducing multiple soil-borne diseases, including Phytophthora root rot on alfalfa, and Verticillium wilt and scab on potato. Finally, recent work has also considered inoculative strategies for controlling soil-borne plant pathogens.
Linda Kinkel shares her experience as an invited speaker at National Taiwan University in Taipei, National Chung-Hsing University in Taichung, and National Chiayi University in Chiayi. Kinkel, along with Jacque Fletcher from Oklahoma State University presented information on the Phytobiomes Initiative, as well as on their research, career paths, and other elements related to the initiative, including pathways to commercialization and science communication. Read more >>
In late September Linda Kinkel was invited to speak at the Science Protecting Plant Health conference in Brisbane, Australia. Kinkel was invited to give two seminars. One titled "Diffuse symbioses: competition, coevolution, and pathogen suppression in the rhizosphere" (the final plenary of the conference) and another other titled "Interaction networks shed light on the ecology and evolution of soil microbiomes" (this was a keynote invited talk to open the session on soil health).
By trying to disentangle the reasons plants in native prairies have been able evade significant disease in the prairie, are there important lessons that can be applied to agriculture to create healthier, more productive plants? Linda Kinkel and her research team are trying to find ways to harness microbes indigenous to Minnesota's native prairies by using them to create disease suppressive soils. Read more >>
Science is not only knowledge, but is an ongoing activity where the application of this knowledge can help explain nature in a reproducible way.
This sentiment uttered by professor Linda Kinkel at the beginning of the Plant Pathology freshman seminar course “Antibiotics: Promise, Profits, and Pitfalls” set a precedent for a day of hands-on laboratory exercises where undergraduate students spent the day applying the teachings of Kinkel and fellow professor Carol Ishimaru on the scientific method by evaluating various antibiotics and learning about pharmaceutical drug discovery. The seminar focuses on providing a holistic perspective of antibiotics for freshman undergraduates across the University with topics ranging from antibiotics in the natural world, drug development and patent law, and media perceptions of antibiotics, in order to help the next generation of students develop scientific literacy and critical thinking skills.