WSU CAHNRS

College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Plant Pathology

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.

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