Mary-Frances Behnke

Graduate Research Assistant
M.S. Student
Plant and Environmental Sciences Department



 Educational Background

B.S. Plant and Environmental Sciences (Agronomy)
Clemson University 2021


I am currently pursuing a M.S. degree in Plant and Environmental Sciences with a focus on plant breeding. My undergraduate experience in agronomy, plant pathology, and agricultural ecology has given me understanding of crop phenotype and environment relationships, so now I am excited to further explore genotype as a factor in crop improvement. For my thesis research, I am working on a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of anthracnose-resistance in global sorghum lines. I plan to ultimately combine this data with that from my lab's own anthracnose field trial, which will include both global and regional sorghum lines. My hope is that this research will promote development of significant markers of anthracnose-resistance.

 Research Interests

My research interests lie in identification SNPs and QTL that contribute to disease resistance in major crops. During my time as a graduate student, I've developed a growing curiosity in the gene-driven mechanisms underlying crop pathogen-resistance and disease response as well.

 Extension and Outreach

Blubaugh, C.K. and M. Behnke. Soil Fertility and Pest Pressure. July 2019. CFSA Soil Management Workshop.


Behnke, M. and D.M. Park. Water Systems Safety During the Covid-19 Pandemic. 5 May 2020. Land-Grant Press.
Behnke, M. Worrying About Wilt? 30 June 2017. Growertalks Magazine. 81(3): 82-86.