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Devdutta Deb

Dr. Devdutta Deb is an Assistant Professor of Biology in the Department of Natural Sciences. She is also the Pre-med advisor at Mercy College. She is the faculty in-charge of the Mercy College Greenhouse and the faculty advisor of the Environmental Alliance group at Mercy. She is a also the faculty mentor in the NSF STEM program at Mercy and a member of several college, school and program committees. She recently became a HHMI-IE Fellow along with becoming a Graduate Member if the Tri-beta Honors Society, Mercy College Chapter.

Dr. Deb is a plant molecular biologist with more than 10+ of scientific research and 6+ years of teaching experience. Prior to joining Mercy College, Dr. Deb taught several Biology courses at Western Connecticut State University.


Postdoctoral Associate, Microbial Pathogenesis (2015), Yale University

Ph.D., Plant Molecular Biology (2013), Virginia Tech

B.S. and M.S., Botany (2005), University of Calcutta, India

Current Research

Effector proteins are exported to the interior of host cells by numerous plant pathogens. These proteins have been well characterized in bacteria but their roles in oomycete and fungal pathogens are poorly understood. Also, the mechanisms through which these effectors promote disease are largely unknown. Bioinformatic analysis of genome sequences from oomycete pathogens Phytophthora sojae, P. ramorum, P. infestans and Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa) have led to the identification of many candidate effector genes. These effector genes have characteristic motifs that target the effectors into plant cells. Although these effector genes are very diverse, certain genes are conserved between P. sojae and H. arabidopsidis, suggesting that they play important roles in pathogenicity. The goal of my research is to characterize conserved effector candidates from oomycete pathogens.

Dr. Deb is looking to work with:

Enthusiastic students who want to learn novel plant biology, molecular biology and microbiology laboratory techniques. Students must have taken at least General Biology I, preferably General Biology II as well or currently enrolled.

Selected Publications

Anderson, R., Deb, D., Withers, J., He, S. Y., & McDowell, J. An oomycete RXLR effector triggers antagonistic plant hormone crosstalk to suppress host immunity. bioRxiv (2019): 561605.

Ha, S; Dimitrova, E; Hoops, S; Altarawy, D; Ansariola, M; Deb, D; Glazebrook, J; Hillmer, R; Hosamadine, H; Katagiri, F; McDowell, J. M.; McGraw, M; Setubal, J; Tyler, B. M.; Laubenbacher R. PlantSimLab - A Modeling and Simulation Web Tool for Plant Biologists. BMC Bioinformatics 20(508), 2019 doi:10.1186/s12859-019-3094-9

Deb, D., Mackey, D., Opiyo, S. O. and McDowell, J. M., Application of alignment-free Bioinformatics methods to identify an oomycete protein with structural and functional similarity to the bacterial AvrE effector protein. PLoS ONE, 13(4), 2018.

Deb, D., How-Yew-Kin, T., Anderson, R. G., Fedkenheuer, K., and McDowell, J. M. Conserved RxLR effectors from oomycetes Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis and Phytophthora sojae suppress PAMP- and effector-triggered immunity in diverse plants. Molecular Plant Microbe Interaction, 2018.

Anderson, R. G., Deb, D., Fedkenheuer K., and McDowell J. M. Recent progress in RXLR effector research. Molecular Plant Microbe Interaction, 2015.

Anderson, R. G., Casady, M., Fee, R., Deb, D., Fedkenheuer, K., Vaughan, M., Huffaker, A., Schmelz, E., Tyler, B., and McDowell, J. M. Homologous RXLR effectors from Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis and Phytophthora sojae suppress immunity in distantly related plants. The Plant Journal, 72 (6), 2012.


Teaching Focus

Dr. Deb teaches the following courses at Mercy College:

  • BIOL 105 - Pathways in Biology

  • BIOL110 - Introduction to Human Biology

  • BIOL160A - General Biology I Lab

  • BIOL161A - General Biology II Lab

  • BIOL265 - Introduction to Microbiology

  • BIOL370 - Biology Research I

  • BIOL460/461 - Coordinating Seminar in Biology

Dr. Deb is the Course Coordinator of the following courses:

  • BIOL160A - General Biology I Lab
  • BIOL161A - General Biology II Lab

  • BIOL265/265A - Introduction to Microbiology Lecture and Lab

Dr. Deb is the Additional Course Coordinator of the following courses:

  • BIOL 105 - Pathways in Biology
  • BIOL160 - General Biology I Lecture

  • BIOL161 - General Biology II Lecture



  • HSI-STEM Summer Research Grant, Summer Research Academy.
  • Mercy College Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program Research Initiative (C-STEPRI) Grant


  • Mercy College Faculty Senate Microgrant: "Mercy College Sustainable Garden Initiative"
  • HSI-STEM Summer Research Grant, Summer Research Academy.


  • Arthur J. Webber Award for Outstanding Graduate Student, Virginia Tech


  • Full-time Graduate Research Assistantships, Virginia Tech


  • Oomycete Molecular Genetics Network Conference Travel Awards


  • Fralin Graduate Fellow, Virginia Tech

Contact Info

Devdutta Deb
Devdutta Deb
  • Assistant Professor, Biology
MH 300
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