Eli Borrego Headshot

Eli Borrego

Assistant Professor

Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences
College of Science
Program Faculty, School of Chemistry and Materials Science

585-475-2184
Office Hours
To meet with me please schedule with this link: https://calendly.com/ejbsbi
Office Location
Office Mailing Address
Rochester Institute of Technology Gosnell School of Life Sciences 85 Lomb Memorial Dr. Rochester NY, 14623, USA

Eli Borrego

Assistant Professor

Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences
College of Science
Program Faculty, School of Chemistry and Materials Science

Education

BS, Texas A&M University-Kingsville; Ph.D, Texas A&M University

Bio

My expertise is in the genetics and biochemistry of lipid signaling during plant defense responses. I was broadly trained in genetics, biochemistry, plant pathology, entomology, and multi-omic technologies to answer fundamental questions in agriculturally-relevant processes. 

My research program seeks to elucidate the physiological and ecological roles of oxygenated lipids (oxylipins) in plant interactions with microbes, insects, and other stresses. Oxylipins are a chemical group of oxygenated lipids found ubiquitously throughout all kingdoms of life and possess potent signaling activity. With very few exceptions, their role in plants is largely unknown. The two best-studied plant oxylipins are jasmonic acid, a classic phytohormone involved in insect and pathogen defense, and green leaf volatiles, the smell of freshly cut grass used by plants to warn themselves and each other of incoming danger. 

We utilize genetic, molecular, and biochemical approaches with genomic, transcriptomic, metabolomic, and lipidomic technologies to address problems such as insect and pathogen resistance and drought tolerance.

I also have extensive experience providing technical training, supervision, and mentoring to undergraduate students; across all my positions, I have trained 86 individuals with at least 10 having since received graduate degrees (5 Ph.D.) and four medical doctorates. As a first-generation college student, I believe that “education is the great equalizer” and have been inspired to encourage the advancement of diverse students through research training and professional development. Under the looming uncertainty of climate change, water scarcity, and an increasing human population, I am motivated to prepare the next generation of scientists to face the challenge of feeding the world.

I was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley and graduated high school from the Science Academy of South Texas in 2004. I earned a B.S. in Plant and Soil Science from Texas A&M University-Kingsville in 2008, and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from Texas A&M University in 2014. I started my adventures at RIT in the Fall of 2019. 

585-475-2184

Areas of Expertise

Select Scholarship

Journal Paper
Helliwell, Emily, et al. "Transgenic soybeans expressing phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate-binding proteins show enhanced resistance against the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora sojae." Frontiers in Microbiology. (2022): 1. Print.
Sun, Pingdong, et al. "An updated census of the maize TIFY family." PLOS ONE 16. 2 (2021): 1-19. Web.
Shi, Yannan, et al. "A Rapid Pipeline for Pollen- and Anther-Specific Gene Discovery Based on Transcriptome Profiling Analysis of Maize Tissues." International Journal of Molecular Sciences. (2021): 1. Web.
Wang, Ken-Der, et al. "Oxylipins Other Than Jasmonic Acid Are Xylem-Resident Signals Regulating Systemic Resistance Induced by Trichoderma Virens in Maize." The Plant Cell 32. 1 (2020): 166-185. Print.
Gorman, Zachary, et al. "Green leaf volatiles and jasmonic acid enhance susceptibility to anthracnose diseases caused by Colletotrichum graminicola in maize." Molecular Plant Pathology. (2020): 1-14. Print.
He, Yongming, et al. "Relative contribution of LOX10, green leaf volatiles and JA to woundinduced local and systemic oxylipin and hormone signature in Zea mays (maize)." Phytochemistry 174. (2020): 112334. Print.
Adegbaju, Muyiwa S., et al. "Differential Evolution of α-Glucan Water Dikinase (GWD) in Plants." Plants. (2020): 1. Web.
Fitoussi, Nathalia, et al. "Oxylipins are Implicated as Communication Signals in Tomato–root‑knot Nematode (Meloidogyne javanica) Interaction." Scientific Reports 11:326. (2021): 1-16. Web.
Park, Yong-Soon , et al. "Fusarium verticillioides induces maize-derived ethylene to promote virulence by engaging fungal G-protein signaling." Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. (2021): 1. Print.
Jochum, Michael D, et al. "Bioprospecting Plant Growth-promoting Rhizobacteria that Mitigate Drought Stress in Grasses." Frontiers in Microbiology 10. (2019): 2106. Web.
Lei, Jiaxin, et al. "CIRCADIAN CLOCK-ASSOCIATED 1 Controls Resistance to Aphids by Altering Indole Glucosinolate Production." Plant Physiology 181. 3 (2019): 1344-359. Print.
Dai, Yanwan, et al. "Rosette Core Fungal Resistance in Arabidopsis Thaliana." Planta 250. 6 (2019): 1941-1953. Print.
Invited Paper
Parthasarathy, Anutthaman, et al. "Amino acid-derived defense metabolites from plants: A potential source to facilitate novel antimicrobial development." Journal of Biological Chemistry. (2021). Print.

Currently Teaching

BIOL-125
1 Credits
This course is an introduction to laboratory work in life sciences. The laboratory work is project-based, and may involve field work as well as laboratory experiments. The course is designed to show the huge scope of biology and will encompass how some molecular biology and bioinformatics techniques connect with organismal and ecological biology.
BIOL-126
1 Credits
This course is an introduction to laboratory work in life sciences. The laboratory work is project based, and the subject matter of the project(s) may vary. The course is designed to show the huge scope of biology and will encompass some molecular biology and bioinformatics techniques connect with organismal and ecological biology.
BIOL-220
3 Credits
This course provides a foundational understanding of fungal and insect biology. The first half of the semester will explore fugal cell biology, diversity, and reproduction, the role of fungi as pathogens and beneficial symbiotes, and fungal interactions with humans. The second half of the semester will explore insect morphology, physiology, reproduction, and the interaction of insects with other organisms (e.g., plants, fungi, humans, and other animals).
BIOL-295
1 - 4 Credits
This course is a faculty-directed student project or research involving laboratory work, computer modeling, or theoretical calculations that could be considered of an original nature. The level of study is appropriate for students in their first three years of study.
BIOL-298
1 - 4 Credits
This course is a faculty-directed tutorial of appropriate topics that are not part of the formal curriculum. The level of study is appropriate for student in their first three years of study.
BIOL-301
1 - 4 Credits
This course allows students to assist in a class or laboratory for which they have previously earned credit. The student will assist the instructor in the operation of the course. Assistance by the student may include fielding questions, helping in workshops, and assisting in review sessions. In the case of labs, students may also be asked to help with supervising safety practices, waste manifestation, and instrumentation.
BIOL-389
1 - 3 Credits
This is an advanced course on a topic that is not part of the formal curriculum. This course is structured as an ordinary course and has specific prerequisites, contact hours, and examination procedures. The level of study is appropriate for students in their final two years of study.
BIOL-495
1 - 4 Credits
This course is a faculty-directed student project or research involving laboratory or field work, computer modeling, or theoretical calculations that could be considered of an original nature. The level of study is appropriate for students in their final two years of study.
BIOL-498
1 - 4 Credits
This course is a faculty-directed tutorial of appropriate topics that are not part of the formal curriculum. The level of study is appropriate for student in their final two years of study.
BIOL-635
3 Credits
The course provides opportunities for students and faculty to develop and share professional interests while discussing current trends and developments in bioinformatics. Material for this course will be drawn from the current scientific literature.
BIOL-798
1 - 4 Credits
This course is a faculty-directed, graduate level tutorial of appropriate topics that are not part of the formal curriculum.

In the News

  • December 3, 2021

    man in a corn field looking at a stalk.

    Growing faculty diversity

    RIT has modernized its approach to recruiting faculty members to improve representation. Assistant Professor Eli Borrego, pictured above, is an expert in the genetics and biochemistry of plant-microbe and plant-insect communication and ecology, and he was introduced to RIT through the Future Faculty Career Exploration Program.

Featured Work