WSU CAHNRS

College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Plant Pathology

News - 2011 RSS feed

December in the News

Congratulations to our Winter Graduates!

Jennifer Niem successfully defended her MS dissertation research and was awarded an MS degree in Plant Pathology. Jennifer’s supervisory committee included Drs. Debra Inglis (chair), Dennis Johnson, and Tim Paulitz (Dr. Axel Elling as a substitute). Jennifer’s dissertation research focused on soilborne potato pathogens. These pathogens respond differently to soil flooding. Jennifer investigated the survival of the sclerotia and microsclerotia of two potato pathogens, Sclerotinia and Verticillium, under greenhouse and field conditions and demonstrated that flooding as a disease management strategy is promising for Sclerotinia but not for Verticillium. Under greenhouse conditions, exposing sclerotia of S. sclerotiorum to constant flooding for three weeks resulted in reduction in germination, ranging from 15 to 88%, although the sclerotia remained intact. At three months, the sclerotia disintegrated but 0 to 18% of the sclerotial fragments retained their viability. No sclerotia were recovered after six months and they completely decomposed. In contrast, V. dahliae appeared to be more resistant to flooding when initial inoculum density was >7 CFU/g of soil. V. dahliae was recovered from the soil even after six months flooding. This result was also reflected in field microplot experiment where V. dahliae and total population estimates of Verticillium species were higher in flooded compared to fallowed microplots after 12 months. One year after planting potatoes into microplots either previously flooded or fallowed, progress of early dying symptoms as measured by AUDPC, final percent foliar wilt, recovery of V. dahliae from sampled potato stems, and potato tuber yield were not significantly different between flooded and fallowed microplots. Jennifer’s research showed that flooding to eliminate S. sclerotiorum is a promising method of controlling the primary inoculum of white mold in potato fields of western Washington but not for fields with high incidence of Verticillium wilt. Flooding is a potential management practice that not only addresses agronomic, but ecological issues as well by creating habitat for shorebirds and other wetland dependent species as a viable rotation option for farmland.

Christian Aguilar successfully defended her MS and was awarded an MS degree in Plant Pathology. Her committee included Drs. Tobin Peever (chair), Martin Chilvers (Michigan State), Tim Murray, and George Vandemark. Her dissertation was onAssessment of chickpea seed disinfestation procedures and detection of Ascochyta rabiei in chickpea seed using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Ascochyta blight is a devastating disease of chickpea caused by the fungal pathogen Ascochyta rabiei (teleomorph; Didymella rabiei). Attempts at limiting the dispersal and destructive potential of A. rabiei have focused on early detection of this pathogen in seed through routine testing and seed certification programs. The absence of internationally accepted standards for assaying chickpea seed has made it difficult to predict Ascochyta blight epidemics based on seed infection/infestation rates. Additionally, disinfestant treatments used in screening chickpea seed for the presence of A. rabiei vary, affecting pathogen recovery rates detected by conventional assays. Christian developed a quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay incorporating TaqMan-MGB fluorescent chemistries for the rapid detection of A. rabiei in chickpea seed. A. rabiei-specific primers and a complimentary fluorescent probe were developed using sequence data from the intergenic spacer (IGS) region of the 28s-18s rDNA genes. The specificity of this molecular assay was demonstrated in PCR and qPCR reactions using purified genomic DNA of A. rabiei, Ascochyta relatives and other fungi isolated from chickpea seed. This assay was shown to be sensitive enough to detect 1 pg to 100 fg of purified A. rabiei DNA, with PCR efficiency of 93%. Refinement of the conventional seed plating assay and development of a quantitative PCR assay will provide additional insight into the epidemiological implications associated with seed-borne transmission of A. rabiei, and will improve the management of Ascochyta blight. Christian will continue pursuing PhD studies with Mark Mazzola/Chang-Lin Xiao.

Faculty Featured in WSU Today

Dr. Naidu Rayapati‘s research on cassava was featured in the December 16, 2011, issue of WSU Today.

November in the News

Faculty Featured in Good Fruit Grower

Research by Dr. Ken Eastwell, professor of plant pathology and Director, Clean Plant Center, was featured in Good Fruit Grower.Dr. Eastwell’s program focuses on reducing the economic impact of virus diseases of vegatatively propagated perennial crops including fruit trees, grapevines, hops, and flower crops. This is accomplished by identifying etiological agents associated with graft-transmisslble diseases; developing molecular and serological tests as an aid to the advancement of disease management strategies. As the director of the Clean Plant Center, Dr. Eastwell provides leadership to the development and distribution of clones of deciduous fruit trees, grapevines and hops that are free of viruses and virus-like agents.


Phytopathology Editor’s Pick

Refereed Journal article from Dr. David Weller’s group, “Biological Control of Take-All by Fluorescent Pseudomonas spp. from Chinese Wheat Fields. Ming-Ming Yang, Dmitri V. Mavrodi, Olga V. Mavrodi, Robert F. Bonsall, James A. Parejko, Timothy C. Paulitz, Linda S. Thomashow, He-Tong Yang, David M. Weller, and Jian-Hua Guo” that came out in the December issue of Phytopathology, was chosen as the Editor’s Pick.


Webinar on Snow Molds

Dr. Tim Murray, professor and former chair of plant pathology, was invited by the Washington and Idaho grain commissions to present a webinar on “Snow molds in the Pacific Northwest”. Dr. Murray’s research specialty and interests include diseases of small cereal grain crops, especially wheat. Ecology, epidemiology, and control of soilborne plant pathogens, including cultural, chemical, and disease resistance. Genetics of disease resistance and the use of alien species as sources of disease resistance genes. Mapping and tagging disease resistance genes with molecular markers. Dr. Murray is part of a multidisciplinary team developing perennial wheat as a new alternative crop to reduce soil erosion. In recognition of his expertise on cereal diseases, Dr. Murray was invited to chair the committee developing the U.S. recovery plan for wheat stem rust race Ug99 and is a member of the USDA Ug99 Action Plan working group. He provided leadership in developing the WSU Plant & Pest Diagnostic eNetwork in his role as the representative to the Western Plant Diagnostic Network.As the founding Editor-in-Chief of Plant Health Progress, Dr. Murray provided the visionary leadership that lead to publication of the first APS electronic-only journal and establishment of the multi-journal, multi-disciplinary Plant Management Network as a web portal for credible science-based information on management of plants and their problems by practitioners.


On Solid Ground Feature

Research by Dr. Brenda Schroeder, Assistant Professor in the department, was featured in the November 8 edition of On Solid Ground. Dr. Schroeder conducts research on bacterial diseases of vegetable crops, with focus on the study of pathogenicity and virulence factors by bacterial plant pathogens. Dr. Schroeder uses traditional plant pathology, phytobacteriology, molecular genetics and genomics to investigate the production of pathogenicity and virulence factors to better understand the pathogen and ultimately control these diseases.

October in the News

Faculty Elected Secretary of International Working Group

Dr. Hanu Pappu, Professor and Chair, was elected Secretary of the International Working Group on Viruses of Legumes and Vegetables.  Members are from more than 27 Countries in Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America, with research programs based in academia, government or industry and are actively engaged in research on vegetable and/or legume viruses.


Faculty Invited to Speak at Cornell University

Dr. Mark Mazzola, Research Plant Pathologist with USDA-ARS and adjunct professor in our department gave an invited seminar in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University, Ithaca on October 24. His seminar was on “Biofumigation: It may be more about soil biology than fumigation”. He met with graduate students in the department, participated in a round table discussion with those working in the area of replant diseases, and participated in the plant-microbe interactions class taught by Dr. Janice Thies where the class happened to be discussing Dr. Mazzola’s 2007 review paper from the Journal of Nematology!


Faculty Invited to Speak at U.S./Mexico Organic Seed WorkshopDr. Lindsey du Toit was invited by the American Seed Trade Association to speak at a U.S./Mexico Organic Seed Workshop in Merida, Mexico on October 21. The workshop was attended by about 30 representatives from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service and USDA National Organic Program; American Seed Trade Association; state and federal organic inspection and trade organizations; seed industry representatives from Mexico, the USA, and Europe; representatives of Mexican agricultural and phytosanitary regulatory agencies; and seed consultants. The objectives of the workshop were to: 1) develop a better understanding of the organic production system and regulations in Mexico, and the phytosanitary issues that impact availability of organic seed in Mexico; and 2) to develop a strategy for adoption of appropriate, feasible, phytosanitary import measures for organic and non-treated seed to fulfill the needs of the organic production market in Mexico.Lindsey gave a presentation titled ‘Research on Organic Seed Treatments: Spinach as a Case Study’.

Faculty Appointed Associate Professor-Extraordinary

Congratulations to Dr. Lindsey du Toit,

Associate Professor in our department and located at the NWREC, Mount Vernon. Dr. du Toit has been appointed as Associate Professor-Extraordinary in the Department of Plant Pathology, University of Stellenbosch, Matieland, South Africa, for a period of three years beginning October 1, 2011.
The University of Stellenbosch created this category of appointment to give recognition to individuals for their proven specialized expertise, and/or their eminence in their profession and field of study, and to involve them in academic programs of the relevant department.
Dr. du Toit holds the Alfred Christianson Endowed Professorship in Vegetable Seed Science. The endowment was established by the family of Alfred Christianson, founder of the Alf Christianson Seed Company, to “attract and retain a world-renowned scholar and practitioner with special expertise in vegetable seed science.”
Dr. du Toit was the recipient of the Early Career Award from the Pacific Division of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). The award recognizes upcoming young scientists who are members and have made distinguished contributions to plant pathology. The Pacific Division is the largest of the divisions within APS and includes members living in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming as well as the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.
Dr. du Toit earned her masters and doctorate degrees, majoring in plant pathology, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


German Professor’s Visit to the Department

Dr. Karl-Heinz Kogel, Professor, Research Center for BioSystems, Land Use and Nutrition, Justus Liebig University visited the department on October 10-11 and gave a seminar, “Broad Spectrum Suppression of Innate Immunity is Required for Colonization of Arabidopsis thaliana Roots by the Fungus Piriformospora indica”. His seminar was jointly sponsored by Plant Pathology, and Crops and Soil Sciences (CSS). He was hosed by Dr. Diter von Wettstein, professor in CSS. Professor Kogel visited with plant pathology faculty and held discussions.

Prof. Kogel studied biology and social sciences at the Rheinland-Westfalen Institute of Technology Aachen, obtained his B.Sc. inBiology and his Ph. D. in 1984 in the field of Plant Physiology. He was a visiting scientist at the Weizman Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel; did postdoctoral work at the Max Planck Institute for Breeding Research at Cologne, and worked as patent attorney in the area of BioPatents. He obtained his Habilitation (D.Sc.) at RWTH Aachen on biochemical mechanisms of disease development in cereals. Since 1996, Dr. Kogel is a professor at the Institute for Phytopathology and Applied Zoology (IPAZ), Justus-Liebig- University Giessen. He served as Vice-President of the Justus-Liebig-University from 2006 to 2010. His research interests are in the areas of Cell Biological Mechanisms of Disease Resistance in Cereals, Biological Plant Protection and Plant Biotechnology.

Student Receives ARCS Scholarship

Department of Plant Pathology is the latest department in WSU selected to receive the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholarship from the ARCS Foundation-Seattle Chapter. With this, our department joins a select few departments in CAHNRS, College of Science, and College of Veterinary Medicine.

This is truly a recognition of our department’s signature graduate program, the largest plant pathology graduate program in the country, for its most comprehensive plant pathology curriculum, and for the high quality of research conducted by our faculty and graduate students.

From the ARCS web site:  The ARCS Foundation-Seattle Chapter, a group of 121 dedicated women, has given over $11.5 million in fellowships to the University of Washington and Washington State University since 1978.  Their goal is to provide our state’s two premier research institutions with a competitive edge in recruiting the nation’s finest doctoral students in the fields of science, engineering and medical research. Fellowships are a grant of $17,500 over three years that the Seattle Chapter funds for graduate students at UW and WSU.  The UW and WSU use these grants to attract graduate students with outstanding scholastic records who receive multiple offers to study at the best universities in the country.


Aaron Agostini, Ph.D. student
ARCS Fellow
Department of Plant Pathology
Washington State University

Aaron began his PhD in fall 2011 at Washington State University in the laboratory of Dr. Dennis Johnson, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology. In Dr. Johnson’s lab, he will be investigating the use of rotation crops to limit the use of pesticides for various diseases that afflict two valuable crops in the Pacific Northwest, potatoes and mint. Aaron has a deep interest in plant diseases and he feels passionate about finding sustainable agricultural methods that reduce or eliminate the need for dangerous chemicals. After his PhD, Aaron hopes to continue to research, educate students and consult with farmers about sustainable agricultural practices.

When out of the library, lab or field, Aaron prefers to spend his time hiking camping, jumping into rivers of questionable depth and volunteering as an Eagle Scout Leader in the Boy Scouts of America, Mt. Diablo Silverado Council.

Aaron Agostini was born in Berkeley, CA and received his B.S. in Fisheries Biology in 2003. Aaron Agostini received his M.S. degree in Biology with an emphasis in environmental microbiology and plant pathology from Sonoma State University in California in 2011. His M.S. thesis was on investigating the use of alternatives to hazardous synthetic pesticides used to combat disease in strawberry agriculture.


ARCS Fellow Mentor Profile: Dr. Dennis Johnson

The 2011 Plant Pathology ARCS Fellow, Mr. Aaron Agostini is pursuing his PhD under the supervision of Dr. Dennis A. Johnson.  For the past 31 years, Dr. Johnson has served some of the most important irrigated agricultural industries in the Columbia Basin of Washington. He made key contributions to understanding the epidemiology and management of diseases of potato and mint.  Important scientific contributions have been made in the areas of disease forecasting, quantitative characterization of spatial patterns of disease plants, characterization of partial resistance.

Dr. Johnson’s disease management strategies and tactics are readily adopted by growers. In disease forecasting, he developed logistic regression models for the early and mid-potato growing seasons that have been used successfully to manage late blight regionally in the Columbia Basin of Washington and Oregon for 15 years. Forecasting models also have been developed and implemented for growers in the Pacific Northwest for hop downy mildew and for improving timing of fungicide applications for potato white mold. The potato white mold model has saved the industry in Washington State over $7.64 million annually since 2005. Potato growers in the Western and Midwestern United States also follow and benefit from his model through timely and judicious fungicide applications to control white mold.

Dr. Johnson recently edited the second edition of the APS publication, Potato Health Management. This is widely used by growers and crop advisors in the potato industry. He has authored or co-authored 106 peer reviewed research journal articles and several sections in the APS Disease Compendia on potato, hop and onion. He has also authored over 250 disease control bulletins and articles for growers.

During his career, Dr. Johnson has authored or co-authored 106 peer-reviewed research journal articles and over 250 disease control bulletins and articles for growers. In recognition of his contributions to the industry, Dr. Johnson is an Honorary Life Member of the Potato Association of America and recipient of the Friend of the Mint Industry Award, presented by the Washington Mint Commission.   He was elected Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society (APS) and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Division (PD) of the APS in 2011.

Dr. Johnson is most proud of his role in mentoring graduate students. Fifteen advanced degrees have been awarded and past students are now productive in science careers. He is currently advising three Ph.D. students including Aaron Agostini, an ARCS Fellow.

Dr. Johnson grew up in southeastern Idaho. He earned a B.S. degree in botany from Brigham Young University in 1973 and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology from the University of Minnesota in 1975 and 1978, respectively. He joined WSU In 1980, was promoted to Associate Professor in 1984 and full Professor in 1990.

September in the News

Herbarium Dedication

The late, world-renowned mycologist Charles Gardner Shaw served Washington State University for 36 years in the Department of Plant Pathology. On Sept. 10,the university’s mycological herbarium was dedicated in his name. Watch more>>


Visit by the Ag Dean from Lebanese University

Dr. Tayssir Hamieh, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon, visited the department on September 27. He met with the department chair, Dr. Hanu Pappu, and held discussions about the various programmatic areas and opportunities for partnerships.


Japanese Researcher Visits the Department

Dr. Tamotsu Hoshino, Leader of Genomic Resources and Environmental Adaptation Research Group in the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Sapporo, Japan visited the department, September 14-16. He was hosted by Dr. Jack Rogers.He visited the Mycological Herbarium in the department to examine specimens of the snow mold fungus, genus Typhula. Dr. Hoshino is using DNA and other technologies to understand certain species of the genus on a worldwide basis.


Student Receives ARCS Scholarship

Department of Plant Pathology is the latest department in WSU selected to receive the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) Scholarship from the ARCS Foundation-Seattle Chapter. With this, our department joins a select few departments in CAHNRS, College of Science, and College of Veterinary Medicine.

This is truly a recognition of our department’s signature graduate program, the largest plant pathology graduate program in the country, for its most comprehensive plant pathology curriculum, and for the high quality of research conducted by our faculty and graduate students. Read about the first plant pathology ARCS Fellow, Aaron Agostini>>


Dr. R James Cook’s Wolf Prize

Dr. R. James Cook, former dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS) and Emeritus Professor in the department was awarded the 2011 Wolf Prize in Agriculture during a special ceremony at the Knesset in Jerusalem. To read Dr. Cook’s acceptance speech, click here.


WSU Today Feature

Research conducted by Dr. Chang-lin Xiao on alternative means of controlling postharvest diseases was featured in the September 1 edition of WSU Today.

WSU names mycology herbarium to honor late professor, Charles Gardner Shaw. An article is featured in the September 1 edition of WSU Today.

August in the News

Faculty Receives The William H. Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Lori Carris was recognized by the Mycological Society of America with The William H. Weston Award for Excellence in Teaching. The award was presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the Mycological Society of America held in Anchorage, Alaska (Aug. 1-6). The award is given annually to an outstanding teacher of mycology at the undergraduate and/or graduate levels. The award was established in 1979 in honor of W. H. Weston (1890-1978), a beloved Harvard mycologist who was widely recognized as having a profound impact on the field of experimental mycology through his humorous and inspired teaching.


Students Recieve Award/Scholarships

Congratulations to Christie Almeyda and Jeremiah Dung, PhD students in the department!

Christie has been selected to receive the Karen DePauw Leadership Award. This prestigious award is offered to women in graduate studies who exemplify outstanding leadership skills, and who are directly involved at Washington State University. Christie is conducting her doctoral research on understanding the genetic control mechanisms in plant-pararetrovirus interactions in Dr. Hanu Pappu’s lab.

Jeremiah will receive the Graduate School Doctoral Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to individuals who have shown outstanding research and scholarship among graduate student at WSU in the Ph.D. program. Jeremiah’s doctoral research is focused determining the genetic diversity and spread of the fungus causing Verticillium wilt in potato and mint, and is being carried out under the mentorship of Dr. Dennis Johnson, professor of plant pathology.


Faculty Speaks to Student Interns at Disney World

Dr. Tim Murray, professor of plant pathology in the department, was invited by Yong Huang, leader of the Agricultural Sciences group at Disney World, Orlando, FL to meet with and talk to the student interns working in the Land Pavilion at Epcot Center. These student interns are working toward plant science degrees at universities around the country. Dr. Murray provided an overview of his program and gave them some ideas about where one can go in plant pathology. Bill Hammer (who received his MS degree with Dr. Gary Chastagner, professor in the department and has been working at Disney ever since) gave Dr. Murray a tour of their operation. Dr. Murray says it’s a very impressive example of IPM and biological control, with very little pesticide input.


Northwest A&F University Visits WSU

A delegation from Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi, China was visiting Washington State University (WSU) on August 15. The delegation was led by Xi Hou, profeesor/vice president and also included Man Zhao, director of the president office; Baojun Zhang, professor, College of Agronomy; Xinzhong Hu, associate professor, College of Food Science and Engineering; and Wenjun Qiao, deputy director, Office of International Cooperation and Exchange. The delegation was hosted by Dr. Xianming Chen, research plant pathologist, USDA-ARS Wheat Genetics, Quality, Physiology, and Disease Research Unit and adjunct professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, WSU. The delegation had meetings with Scot Hulbert, professor of the Department of Plant Pathology and Daniel Skinner, research leader of the ARS unit, as well as administrators of the International Programs, Graduate School, College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, and International Research and Development of WSU. The visit was to strengthen the cooperation between Northwest A&F University and WSU. The delegation also visited the University of Idaho on August 16.


Institute of Plant Protrection Visits WSU

A delegation from the Institute of Plant Protection (IPP), Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and National Agro-Tech Extension & Service Center (NATESC), China Ministry of Agriculture was visiting the Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University (WSU) at Pullman, WA on August 18. The delegation was led by Wanquan Chen, professor/deputy director general, IPP in Beijing and also included Tianrun Zhong, senior agronomist/deputy director general, NATESC in Beijing; Shichang Xu, professor/wheat breeder, IPP; Jing Li, senior agronomist/deputy director, Plant Protection Station, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Urumqi, China; and Yilin Zhou, professor/plant pathologist, IPP. The delegation was hosted by Dr. Xianming Chen, research plant pathologist in the USDA-ARS Wheat Genetics, Quality, Physiology, and Disease Research Unit and adjunct professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University. The delegation had a meeting with Hanu Pappu, professor and chair of the Department of Plant Pathology, and exchanged research progress and shared experience of extension and service in plant protection with Xianming Chen’s group. They also visited experimental fields and research facilities and discussed possible collaboration on research and control of wheat stripe rust.


Faculty Appointed to the Alfred Christianson Endowed Professorship

Congratulations to Dr. Lindsey du Toit, Associate Professor in our department and located at the NWREC, Mount Vernon. She has been reappointed to the Alfred Christianson Endowed Professorship for another four-year term.

The four-year endowment will provide funding to support Dr. du Toit’s vegetable seed pathology research program. The endowment was established by the family of Alfred Christianson, founder of the Alf Christianson Seed Company, to “attract and retain a world-renowned scholar and practitioner with special expertise in vegetable seed science.”

The Alf Christianson Seed Company was founded in 1926 in Mount Vernon, initially producing and selling cabbage seed and expanding over the years into the production of spinach, carrot, radish, turnip and other vegetable and herb seed. Northwestern Washington is one of the world’s leading areas for vegetable seed production.
Dr. du Toit was the recipient of the Early Career Award from the Pacific Division of the American Phytopathological Society. The award recognizes upcoming young scientists who are members and have made distinguished contributions to plant pathology.
Dr. du Toit earned her masters and doctorate degrees, majoring in plant pathology, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


APS Meeting Highlights

Dr. Johnson Receives Award

Congratulations to Dr. Dennis A. Johnson, Professor of plant pathology. Dr. Johnson received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Division (PD) of the American Phytopathological Society (APS). He was recognized with this award during the APS-PD meeting held early this month in Honolulu, HI.

The Pacific Division Lifetime Achievement Award was first awarded in 1990. This award is given to senior members of the Pacific Division who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to plant pathology and service to the Pacific Division. The contributions may be in research, teaching, extension, or any other aspect of plant pathology in either an academic or nonacademic environment.  The Pacific Division is the largest of the divisions within APS and includes members living in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming as well as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Student Receives First Place

Congratulations to Jeremiah Dung, PhD student in the department.  Jeremiah received First Place in APS Pacific Division’s recent graduate student paper competition held during the APS/IPPC meeting in Honolulu, HI.

The recognition included a certificate and cash award. The Pacific Division is the largest of the divisions within the American Phytopathological Society (APS) and includes members living in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming as well as the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Jeremiah joined the lab of Dr. Dennis Johnson, professor of plant pathology, in the spring of 2007 and completed his M.S. degree in 2009.  His research focused on the epidemiology of Verticillium wilt in potato seed tubers and resistance to the disease in cultivated and non-cultivated mint.  Jeremiah then decided to continue his education under the supervision of Dr. Johnson, where his current Ph.D. work is focused on using DNA-based markers to determine the genetic diversity and spread of the fungus causing Verticillium wilt in potato and mint.  Jeremiah is also investigating the epidemiology of bacterial stem rot with his M.S. and Ph.D. co-advisor, Dr. Brenda Schroeder, assistant professor in the department.

In addition to the above award, Jeremiah has won several awards of distinction and recognition for his graduate research: he has placed first (2010), second (2009) and third (2008) in the American Phytopathological Society (APS)’s Pacific Division Meetings Student Paper Competition, and has been awarded three competitive APS Travel Awards.  In 2008, he was the recipient of the F.D. Heald Scholarship from the Department of Plant Pathology and the J. De Weerd Memorial Fellowship for Excellence in Potato Research from the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.

Jeremiah was born in Berkeley, CA and grew up in Spokane, WA.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 2006 from Eastern Washington University (Cheney, WA), where his undergraduate studies focused on botany and mycology.

Faculty Recognized with Awards from the American Phytopathological Society

Drs. Lori Carris, Gary Chastagner, and Dennis Johnson were recognized with APS Teaching, Extension and Fellow awards, respectively, at the annual meeting held in Honolulu, HI.

APS Preconference Tour was a Huge Success

The 2011 APS “Pre- and postharvest diseases of tropical fruits filed trip” was held on August 6, 2011. The field trip was organized by Dr. Chang-Lin Xiao, Associate Professor in the department and located at the R and E center in Wenatchee. Available slots filled up very quickly after the online registration was open and many had to be turned away. The field trip was successfully conducted with 57 participants from different countries. Xiao was assisted by Jari Sugano from University of Hawaii Extension and Alex Cochran from Syngenta.


Congratulations to our Summer Graduates!Juliane Evans completed requirements for an M.S. degree in plant pathology from our department. Her project focused on genetic variation in Cephalosporium gramineum and was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Timothy Murray. Her M.S. thesis focused on assessing genetic variation to infer of the population structure and reproductive mode of C. gramineum, causal agent of Cephalosporium stripe on wheat. Overall, asexual reproduction appears to be consistently occurring within C. gramineum among populations tested, and a large amount of morphological and genetic variation was observed in a large number of isolates over time and space. Her supervisory committee included Drs. Xianming Chen and Tobin Peever. Evans grew up in Hummelstown, PA and she earned a B.S. in biology from Messiah College, in Grantham, PA. Her future plans are to study veterinary medicine at Oklahoma State University beginning this fall.Congratulations!

 

Mr. Chan Maketon successfully defended his MS dissertation research and will be awarded an MS degree in Plant Pathology. He carried out his research under the supervision of Dr. Pat Okubara. Chan’s supervisory committee included Drs. Scot Hulbert, Brenda Schroeder, and Linda Thomashow. His dissertation research was on the early induction of wheat root defense gene homologues in two wheat cultivars by wild type and mutant biocontrol strains of Pseudomonas fluorescens. He demonstrated that colonization by a P. fluorescens mutant lacking the ability to synthesize the antifungal metabolite 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol (DAPG) resulted in greater expression of glutathione S-transferase genes compared to wild type and that the expression was both strain- and cultivar-dependent. In contrast, a P. fluorescens strain harboring a deletion in the type III secretion system locus was no different than wild type on gene expression in either cultivar. The findings suggest that early root defense gene expression in the host is independent of bacterial effectors and that DAPG production alters the response of a subset of host genes. The research will lead to future investigations of triggers of wheat root gene expression. Chan hails from Thailand, graduated from John W North High School in Riverside, California and earned a BS in Plant Science from the University of Arizona, Tucson in 2008, where he discovered an interest in research as an undergraduate in the laboratories of Elizabeth Arnold and Patricia Stock. Chan is currently seeking a research-based position in industry.

Adjunct Faculty & Staff to Receive Award

Congratulations to Dr. David Weller, Research Leader, and Supervisory Plant Pathologist, USDA-ARS Root Disease and Biological Control Research Unit, and Adjunct Professor in the department, and to Ms. Kathleen Parker, ARS Program Assistant.  They have been selected to receive the USDA Secretary’s Honor Award in the Diversity category for the STEM outreach program “Pumping-Up the Math and Science Pipeline: Grade School to College.”  Read more>>


On Solid Ground Feature

Jenny Glass, Disease Diagnostician, and Dr. Marianne Elliott and Katie Coats located in Puyallup were featured in the August 3 edition of On Solid Ground.

July in the News

WSU Today and On Solid Ground Feature

Research conducted by Dr. Ken Eastwell on virus testing was featured in the July 6 edition of On Solid Ground and the July 19 editon of WSU Today.

June in the News

Faculty Organized Workshop on Preventing the Spread of Phytophthora ramorum via Water

Dr. Gary Chastagner, professor in the department and located at the Puyallup R and E Center, and Dr. Susan Frankel, USDA-Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station organized a two and a half day workshop on preventing the spread of Phytophthora ramorum via water, June 28-30, 2011, in Puyallup, WA, The workshop sponsored by Washington State University and the California Oak Mortality Task Force. Attended by over 50 regulators, researchers, and industry representatives from the Western and Southeastern U.S., and Washington DC, The workshop’s mission was to coalesce research, management and regulations to develop effective, economical and environmentally acceptable ways of limiting P. ramorum spread via contaminated nursery run-off. The group visited a Gig Harbor retail nursery site where P. ramorum had leaked out of the nursery and infected riparian salal plants to review treatments and mitigations. Formal talks covered the incidence and location of P. ramorum recovery from waterways, water baiting techniques, risks and impacts for WA, and treatments to reduce the risk of spreading inoculum in water. Research and education/outreach needs identification, group exercises and discussion concentrated on nursery treatments and water management, monitoring, and notification of downstream users of contaminated water. More information


Farewell and Best Wishes

Robin Stratton, Administrative Coordinator in our department since August 2007 recently accepted a position with USDA here on Pullman campus. During these four years, Robin carried out a multitude of office and administrative tasks with an increasing degree of complexity and directly contributed to our unit’s productivity. Robin’s honesty, integrity, conscientiousness and dedication to ensuring that the entire unit operates at the highest level of efficiency and productivity are well-recognized and appreciated. She takes multitasking to the next level. She is unfailingly professional, approachable, honest, courteous, funny and accountable. Her attention to detail and commitment to ensuring accuracy in everything she does is reflected by the ‘clean’ report given by the WSU Internal Auditors for purchasing card and property. Robin was instrumental in updating the department web site to conform to the WSU’s new brand refresh. Robin is artistically creative: she developed our new departmental brochure, faculty interest brochure and small poster to follow the WSU brand identity and created a brand look for the department. We wish you all the best, Robin!


Graduate Student Featured

Research conducted by Anna Leon, PhD student with Dr. Gary Chastagner, was featured in the June 22 edition of On Solid Ground and the June 22 edition of WSU Today.


WSU Today Feature

Drs. Debra Inglis, Lori Carris, Brenda Schroeder and Lindsey du Toit were featured in the June 16 edition of WSU Today for their $10,000 from an ADVANCE at WSU Department Development Mini-Grant.


Undergraduate Intern to work on Sudden Oak Death

Giselle Baptiste is the newest addition to the Sudden Oak Death (SOD) research team lead by Dr. Gary Chastagner, Professor in our department and located at the Puyallup R and E center. Giselle is a senior Biology major and Chemistry minor enrolled at the Pacific Lutheran University. She will be interning at the SOD lab for the next two months and will be working under the supervision of Dr. Gary Chastagner and Dr. Marianne Elliott, postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Chastagner’s lab. Giselle was born and raised on the tropical twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago. Welcome, Giselle!

May in the News

Australian Researchers’ visit to the department

Dr. Trevor Wicks, Senior Plant Pathologist at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Plant Research Centre in Adelaide, Australia, and Dr. Simon Anstis, postdoctoral scientist with SARDI, visited Washington State University and the Columbia Basin of central Washington and north-central Oregon the week of 23 May 2011. Wicks and Anstis toured research trials and commercial crops in the Columbia Basin, where Rhizoctonia spp. are causing economic losses in onion bulb crops and several other crops, with Drs. Tim Paulitz (USDA ARS), Lindsey du Toit (Washington State University), Phil Hamm (Oregon State University), and Lyndon Porter (USDA ARS). Wicks and Anstis presented a seminar on the main campus of Washington State University on 27 May, titled “Rhizoctonia onion stunt in South Australia: Factors affecting severity and management options”. Wicks and Anstis were treated to a baseball game between the rivals Washington State University and the University of Washington.


Visitor from the USDA FAS-Borlaug International Fellows Program, WA DC

Ms. Natasha Acheampong, International Affairs Specialist with the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), WA DC, visited the department on May 24th and met with Dr. Hanu Pappu, department chair.  Ms. Acheampong, serves as an International Affairs Specialist for the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program in USDA FAS. The program aims to promote food security and economic growth by increasing scientific knowledge and collaborative research to improve agricultural productivity, by training international agricultural research scientists, faculty, and  policymakers. Ms. Acheampong has been with the agency 5 years, and received her degree in International Relations from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to her appointment with USDA, she was an Associate at Greenlee Partners,  LLC, and Program Coordinator at OIC International, a Philadelphia based not-for-profit organization that provides citizens of the developing world with tools to secure a better future. Her visit was organized by Dr. Chris Pannkuk, Director, CAHNRS International Research and Development.


Director of Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation Visits Department

Professor Robert Henry, Director, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) visited Washington State University on May 16-17th and met with the faculty in the department. His visit facilitated discussions to strengthen the ongoing collaborations and indentified new areas for joint research efforts.  Launched in 2010, QAAFI is an Institute of the University of Queensland (UQ) and was formed through an alliance between UQ and the Queensland Government.  Professor Henry’s specialty research area is the study of agricultural crops using molecular tools. Over the years, his work has included the study of DNA-based methods for identification of plants and their pathogens, the development of molecular markers for plant breeding and the genetic transformation of plants.


Congratulations to our Spring Graduates!

Sarah Dossey completed her MS program under the supervision of Dr. Brenda Schroeder.

Megan Robinson completed her MS program under the supervision of Dr. Timothy Murray.
Hongyan Sheng completed her PhD program under the supervision of Dr. Timothy Murray.
Jane Stewart completed her PhD program under the supervision of Dr. Tobin Peever.
Muditha Weerakoon completed her MS program under the supervision of Dr. Mark Mazzola.
Jingying Zhang completed her MS program under the supervision of Dr. Gary Grove.
Congratulations!!

April in the News

Special Seminar by Dr. Chris Pannkuk, Director CAHNRS Office of International Research and Development

Dr. Chris Pannkuk, Director, CAHNRS International Research and Development was the invited speaker in the department. He gave a talk, WSU’s International Research and Development: “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”.  Prior to his seminar, a reception was held in honor of Dr. Pannkuk. He visited with faculty, staff and students.


Seed and Biotech Industry Leader from India Visits the Department

Dr. Usha Barwale Zehr, Chief Technology Officer, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company, Jalna, India gave an invited seminar, “Innovation for Indian Agriculture – Research
efforts at Mahyco on pests and abiotic stresses”, at the Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman. Her talk, ‘Innovation for Indian Agriculture – Research efforts at Mahyco on pests and abiotic stresses” highlighted some of the R and D effort in improving productivity of economically important crops. Mahyco is India’s leading seed company and pioneered the development and commercialization of Bt cotton varieties in India. Zehr also serves as the director of the Barwale Foundation. She is on the Board of Trustees of the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center, St. Louis, MO, International Rice Research Institute, Manila, Philippines, and CIMMYT, Mexico.  Zehr met with graduate students, staff, faculty and college and university administration during her visit.

Dr. Zehr received her Ph.D in agronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1987. She held positions as a researcher at the University of Illinois from 1983 to 1990. From 1991-1996 she was a geneticist at Purdue University, studying sorghum and millet. Her research interests focus on the application of plant biotechnology for improving agricultural production. During her graduate and post-graduate studies, she worked in the area of tissue culture and transformation. Her group at the University of Illinois was the first to develop a system for soybean regeneration. As a result of her work at Purdue University, the first transgenic sorghum plant was produced. Her work in plant biotechnology is aimed toward implementing emerging technologies in the developing
world.


Dr. Tobin Peever Hosts Visitors from Russia and UKPhilipp Gannibal (left), researcher at the All-Russian Institute of Plant Protection, St. Petersburg, Russia and Andrew Armitage (right), Ph.D. student at the University of Warwick, UK visited Tobin Peever (centre), Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University from April 22 to 25, 2011. Andrew and Philip met with members of Peever’s lab and discussed research of mutual interest including the systematics, ecology and evolution of Alternaria species associated with pome fruits, grasses and solanaceous crops. Andrew and Philipp also spent a day searching for the first morels of the 2011 season in northern Idaho and paid a visit to the Palouse Falls during their stay in eastern WA.

Alumni Recognized by the American Phytopathological SocietyCongratulations to Drs. Mohammad Babadoost and Dr. Judith Brown.

Dr. Judith Brown, professor of plant pathology at University of Arizona, was elected Fellow of APS this year. Dr. Brown received her M.S. degree (1981) in plant pathology from our department with Dr. Stephen Wyatt.
Dr. Brown’s nomination statement.

Dr. Mohammad Babadoost, associate professor in the Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will be receiving the International Service Award from APS this year. He received an M.S. degree (1979) in plant pathology from our department under the supervision of Dr. Dick Gabrielson.
Dr. Babadoost’s nomination statement.

They will be recognized with these awards at a special recognition ceremony during the APS annual meeting to be held this August in Honolulu, HI.


Dr. Tobin Peever is the GPSA Faculty Advisor of ExcellenceCongratulations to Dr. Tobin Peever, associate professor in our department.
Dr. Peever was selected to receive the GPSA Faculty Advisor Excellence Award for 2011. He was recognized with this award at the GPSA Appreciation Banquet held in the Ensminger Pavillion on April 22.

Australian Researcher’s Visit to the DepartmentDr. Ralf Dietzgen, Principal Research Fellow and Adjunct Associate Professor, QAAFI and University of Queensland, Brisbane, visited our department on April 18-19.  He was hosted by Dr. Hanu Pappu.  Dr. Dietzgen met with faculty, staff and students, and gave an invited seminar, “Negative-sense RNA virus protein localization and interactions in living plant cells”. Dr. Dietzgen’s research interests are in molecular virus-plant-insect interactions and virus biodiversity and evolution. His main focus is on the molecular taxonomy of negative-sense RNA viruses of the family Rhabdoviridae and the characterisation of plant-adapted rhabdoviruses. He has published extensively on plant virus characterisation and genetic variability, RNAi- mediated virus resistance and diagnostic technologies with 20 review articles and book chapters and over 65 peer-reviewed publications. Dr. Dietzgen’s other scientific interests are in the areas of biofuel crops and the genomics of papaya and mango fruit colour, flavour and health bioactives. He chairs the Rhabdoviridae study group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses.

Plant Biotechnology Expert from Spain Visits the Department

Dr. Paul Christou, , ICREA Research Professor and Head of the Applied Plant Biotechnology Laboratory, Universidad de Lleida, Lleida, Spain gave two seminars, “Multi-gene and Multi-pathway Engineering for Creating Nutritionally Improved Crops” and “Trials and Tribulations of Transgenic Crops in Europe: A State of Pain or Anguish That Tests Patience, Endurance, or Belief”. Dr. Christou’s visit was jointly sponsored by the Plant Pathology Department along with Departments of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, and Crops and Soils.

(Photo from left: Drs. Teresa Capell, Hanu Pappu, and Paul Christou)


Dr. Scot Hulbert invited to deliver the E.S. Luttrell Lecture at University of GeorgiaDr. Scot Hulbert, professor of plant pathology and R. James Cook Chair in Cropping Systems Pathology, was invited to give the 2011 E.S. Luttrell Lecture in the Department of Plant Pathology at University of Georgia, Athens, GA. He will be delivering the lecture on May 4th. This annual lecture series, named after the UGA plant pathology professor, late Dr. E.S. Luttrell, recognizes and honors the seminal contributions made by him to the field of mycology and plant pathology.

Dr Jack Rogers delivered invited lectures at Clemson UniversityDr. Jack Rogers, professor of plant pathology, WSU Regents Professor and Eminent Faculty, was the invited speaker and guest at the Mid-Atlantic States Mycology Conference at Clemson University, SC, April 1-3.  Dr. Rogers gave a two-parted address:  Research Opportunities with xylariaceous fungi in the Southeast; and Origins of studies of Xylariaceae and other pyrenomycetes in the Southeast. Among the attendees were Prof. Larry Grand of NC State, one of Dr. Rogers’ first Ph. D. students, and Dr. Julia Kerrigan of Clemson U., Dr. Rogers’ last Ph. D. student!

Dr Jim Cook, Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology, to deliver the commencement speech at spring commencement. Dr. Jim Cook, Professor Emeritus in our department, will be one of the speakers at this year’s spring commencement on Saturday May 7th beginning at 8 am.

On Solid Ground Feature

The National Clean Plant Network-Hops directed by Dr. Ken Eastwell, professor in our department and located at IAREC, Prosser, was featured in the April 6 edition of On Solid Ground.

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