Welcome to the Cook lab at UC Davis. We are a group of enthusiastic and dedicated plant and microbial biologists exploring issues related to the diversity and functional attributes of legumes and their microbial associates. Main themes in the lab include symbiotic nitrogen fixation, metagenomics of plant-associated microbes, drought tolerance, and domestication. Our work spans a range of spatial scales, from the function of natural systems distributed over thousands of square kilometers, to the sub-cellular scale, where we explore the dynamics of signal transduction systems. We employ diverse methodologies from genomics and computation, through molecular and cellular biology. Please explore this website and our allied site, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Climate Resilient Chickpea.



UC Davis Department of Plant Pathology LinkArrow2.jpg

APS - American Phytopathological Society LinkArrow2.jpg

ASPB - American Society of Plant Biologists LinkArrow2.jpg

Feed the Future Innovation Lab Climate Resilient Chickpea LinkArrow2.jpg


USAID Project 

This project fosters breeding of high‑yielding, climate resilient chickpea within the context of user‑preferred traits: seed quality and nutrient density, reduced inputs due to climate resilient nitrogen fixation, and biotic stress resistance among them. We have identified and are introducing newly collected wild alleles into diverse high performing elite cultivars. These efforts will make chickpea more resilient to climatic variation, and in the process help alleviate rural poverty, reduce childhood malnutrition, and increase food security for smallholder farmers. For detailed information, please visit the USAID Project webpage GreenArrow.jpg.

NSF Project

Chickpea and its wild relatives have a natural capacity for nitrogen fixation, reducing their dependence on fertilizer nitrogen. Nevertheless domesticated legumes, including chickpea, often suffer from low and/or variable rates of nitrogen fixation. This project bridges ecology and molecular biology by means of genomics and quantitative biology to identify and subsequently analyze genes involved in the establishment of the legume rhizobial symbiosis. For detailed information, please visit the NSF Project webpage GreenArrow.jpg.

Global Crop Diversity Trust

The GCDT effort includes the dual focuses of (1) curation, increase and distribution of wild germplasm, and (2) analysis of drought tolerance among representative wild accessions. Water availability is critical during reproduction and grain filling, and thus is a key factor in yield. Plant traits that conserve soil moisture even when water is not limiting are likely to be relevant for yield improvement under limiting water conditions, especially in chickpea where the most relevant water stress is terminal drought. For detailed information, please visit the GCDT Project webpage GreenArrow.jpg.