David Zaitlin
Associate Director
Principal Investigator
Scientist III

  • dzait2@uky.edu
  • (859) 257-7511
  • (859) 323-1077
  • University of Kentucky
    1401 University Drive
    Lexington KY 40546-0236
  • Kentucky Tobacco Research & Development Center, room 200K

Professional Profile

I have been a Scientist and Principal Investigator at KTRDC since October 2001.  My professional training is in plant and bacterial molecular biology and genetics. 

Research Interests

  • Molecular genetics of disease resistance in Nicotiana
  • Plant pathogenic oomycetes, especially blue mold disease of tobacco (Peronospora tabacina)
  • Isolation and characterization of plant R genes
  • Systematics and population genetics of Nicotiana obtusifolia, N. benthamiana and N. langsdorffii
  • Genetics, genomics, phylogenetics, evolution, domestication, and biodiversity in the ornamental plant Sinningia speciosa (Gesneriaceae)


  • B.S. in biology with distinction, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ.  Junior year of study at Cornell University.
  • Ph.D. in Biochemistry, University of California, Davis.  Dissertation title: “Genetic Characterization of Agrobacterium tumefaciens virulence suppression encoded on the IncW R-Plasmid pSa.”
  • Post-doctoral research at Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research (Cornell University) 1984-85
  • Post-doctoral research with Professor Lawrence Bogorad, Harvard University 1985-88

Additional Information

Selected Recent Publications

Zaitlin, D., O.D. Chambers, B. Li, R.E. Mundell and H.M. Davies (2004) Drugs in crops (Correspondence).  Nature Biotechnology 22: 507.

Heist, E.P., D. Zaitlin, D.L. Funnel, W.C. Nesmith and C.L. Schardl (2004) Necrotic-lesion resistance induced by Peronospora tabacina on leaves of Nicotiana obtusifolia.  Phytopathology 94: 1178-1188.

Zhang, S. and D. Zaitlin (2008) Genetic Resistance to Peronospora tabacina in Nicotiana langsdorffii, a South American wild tobacco.  Phytopathology 98: 519-528.

Goodin, M.M., D. Zaitlin, N.A. Rayapati and S.A. Lommel (2008) Nicotiana benthamiana: its history and future as a model for plant-pathogen interactions.  Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 21: 1015-1026.

Kurepa, J., S. Wang, Y. Li, D. Zaitlin, A.J. Pierce and J.A. Smalle (2009) Loss of 26S proteasome function leads to increased cell size and decreased cell number in Arabidopsis shoot organs.  Plant Physiology 150: 178-89.

Chen, C., J. Zou, S. Zhang, D. Zaitlin, and L. Zhu (2009) Strigolactones are a newly-defined class of plant hormones which inhibit shoot branching and mediate the interaction of plant-AM fungi and plant-parasitic weeds.  Science in China Series C - Life Sciences 52(8): 693-700.

Pattanaik, S., Q. Kong, D. Zaitlin, J.R. Werkman, B. Patra, C.H. Xie, and L. Yuan (2010) Isolation and functional characterization of a floral tissue-specific R2R3 MYB regulator from tobacco. Planta 231: 1061-1076.

Chatterjee, A., N.C. Das, S. Raha, R. Babbitt, Q. Huang, D. Zaitlin, and I.B. Maiti (2010).  Production of xylanase in transgenic tobacco for industrial use in bioenergy and biofuel applications.  In Vitro Cell. Dev. Biol. – Plant 46: 198-209.

 Zaitlin, D. and A.J. Pierce. (2010) Nuclear DNA Content in Sinningia (Gesneriaceae); intraspecific genome size variation in S. speciosa.  Genome 53 (12): 1066-1082. 

Zhang, S., Gao, M. and D. Zaitlin. (2012) Molecular linkage mapping and marker-trait associations with NlRPT, a downy mildew resistance gene in Nicotiana langsdorffii. Frontiers in Plant Science 3: 185. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00185.

Zaitlin, D. (2012) Intraspecific diversity in Sinningia speciosa (Gesneriaceae: Sinningieae), and possible origins of the cultivated florist’s gloxinia. AoB Plants pls039; doi: 10.1093/aobpla/pls039.

Zaitlin, D. and A. Bombarely (2014) Population genetics and conservation in Sinningia speciosa (Lodd.) Hiern Gesneriaceae). In: dos Santos Silva, T.R., et al., organizers, Botânica Na América Latina: Conhecimento, Interação E Difusão, XI Congreso Latinoamericano de Botânica, Salvador, Bahia, Brasil. October 19-24, 2014. pp. 491-503.

Kroumova, A.B.M., Zaitlin, D. and G.J. Wagner (2016) Natural variability in acyl moieties of sugar esters produced by certain tobacco and other Solanaceae species. Phytochemistry 130: 218-227. DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2016.05.008

Soorni, A., Haak, D., Zaitlin, D. and A. Bombarely. (2017) Organelle_PBA, a pipeline for assembling chloroplast and mitochondrial genomes from PacBio DNA sequencing data. BMC Genomics 18: 49. DOI: 10.1186/s12864-016-3412-9

Qin, Q., Li, Y., Ding, N., Li, D., Martinez, N., Miller, R., Zaitlin, D., and S. Yang (2018) Development of user-friently markers for disease resistance to black root rot of tobacco through genotyping by sequencing. Molecular Breeding 38: 76.

Bao, Y., Ding, N., Qin, Q., Wu, X., Martinez, N., Miller, R., Zaitlin, D., Li, D. and S. Yang (2019) Genetic mapping of the Ph gene conferring disease resistance to black shank in tobacco. Molecular Breeding 39: 122.

Hasing, T., Rinaldi, E., Manrique, S., Columbo, L., Haak, D.C., Zaitlin, D. and A. Bombarely (2019) Extensive phenotypic diversity in the cultivated Florist's Gloxinia, Sinningia speciosa (Lodd.) Hiern, is derived from the domestication of a single founder population. Plants People Planet 1: 363-374.

Ding, N., Qin, Q., Wu, X., Miller, R., Zaitlin, D., Li, D. and S. Yang (2020) Antagonistic regulation of axillary bud outgrowth by the BRANCHED genes in tobacco. Plant Molecular Biology 103: 185-196.

Zaitlin, D. (2020) Technical Report: Literature Review on the Use of Biotechnology and Omics. CORESTA Tobacco Biotechnology and Omics Task Force. https://www.coresta.org/sites/default/files/technical_documents/main/TBO...

Zaitlin, D. (2020) Technical Report: Genome Editing and Plant Breeding. CORESTA Tobacco Biotechnology and Omics Task Force. https://www.coresta.org/sites/default/files/technical_documents/main/TBO...