College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Plant Pathology

July in the News

Faculty Research Featured in WSU Today

Research by Dr. Axel Elling, assistant professor in the department, was featured in WSU Today.

Keeping potatoes happy and healthy -The next time you eat a baked spud you might want to think of the agricultural scientists who are hard at work trying to help the humble potato deal successfully with some significant diseases. [more]

Alumnus to deliver talk at the Schroth Faces of the Future Symposium at the 2012 APS annual meeting

Dr. Leonardo (Leo) De La Fuente (PhD Plant Pathology, WSU) assistant professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Auburn University, Auburn, AL was invited to deliver a talk at the Schroth Faces of the Future in Bacteriology Symposium at this year’s APS annual meeting in Providence, RI.

Leo obtained his undergraduate degree in biochemistry and master’s degree in biology with a minor in microbiology from the University of the Republic in Montevideo, Uruguay. He then headed north to Cougar Town, USA and joined our department to pursue his Ph.D. He explored rhizosphere colonization by 2,4-diacetylphloroglucinol (DAPG)-producing strains of Pseudomonas fluorescens under the guidance of Drs. Dave Weller and Linda Thomashow. After graduation, Leo did postdoctoral work at Cornell University, Geneva Campus before joining the Auburn faculty.  At Auburn, he is studying X. fastidiosa and is leading research to determine whether or not infection by this bacterium influences the plant’s mineral composition and how this could affect disease development. In addition, he is also adapting nanotechnology techniques used to develop microfluidic chambers to study the species of ‘Candidatus Liberibacter’ that are associated with huanglongbing (citrus greening disease). Leo has authored/coauthored 27 peer-reviewed articles and is the recipient of a number of honors, including the Storkan-Hanes-McCaslin Foundation Research Fellowship. He currently serves as the vice chair of the APS Bacteriology Committee.

The Schroth Faces of the Future Symposium, established through an endowment from Milt and Nancy Schroth and organized by the Early Career Professionals Committee with support from the APS Foundation, acknowledges early career scientists whose research and forward thinking have positioned them to be the “up and comers” in their field. Speakers for this year’s symposium, “Forging New Frontiers in Plant Bacteriology” were selected through a formal competition by a panel composed of distinguished members of the Bacteriology Committee and each speaker will receive a $500 travel award. The symposium is scheduled for Wednesday, August 8, 2012, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the APS Annual Meeting in Providence, RI.

Past invitees from our department to speak at this symposium include Drs. Olufemi Alabi (Schroth Faces of the Future in Virology) Axel Elling (Schroth Faces of the Future in Nematology) and Brenda Schroeder (Schroth Faces of the Future in Bacteriology).

Congratulations, Señor Leo!


Plant Path Grad Students Receive Competitive Travel Awards

Christie Almeyda, PhD student with Dr. Hanu Pappu, is the recipient of the Elsie J. and Robert Aycock Student Travel Award from the APS Foundation ( The Elsie J. and Robert Aycock Student Travel Fund was established by Dr. Aycock to honor his wife, Elsie Aycock.

Ebrahiem Babiker, PhD student with Dr. Scot Hulbert, received the José and Silvia Amador Student Travel Award from the APS Foundation.( This fund was created by the APS Caribbean Division, made possible by contributions of members of the division.

These competitively-awarded travel awards support plant pathology graduate students’ attendance at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Phytopathological Society in Providence, RI, August 4-8. Christie and Ebrahiem will be presenting results of their PhD dissertation research at this conference.



Renuka Attanayake, PhD student with Dr. Weidong Chen, received a travel award to attend a workshop on  Multiple Sequence Alignment and Phylogeny Estimation on May 20-22, 2012 at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. The workshop was funded by the National Science Foundation through a grant to the University of Texas.  She also received a travel scholarship to attend the 58th Conference on Soilborne Plant Pathogens, held on March 20-22, 2012 at the Huntington Library and Gardens, San Marino, CA ( This competitive award supports graduate students working on soilborne plant pathogens to attend the meeting and present results of his/her research.


Noma Chingandu, MS student with Dr. Hanu Pappu, is the recipient of the
APS Pacific Division Graduate Student Travel Award from the APS Pacific Division
( This award supported graduate students’ attendance at the 2012 Annual Meeting of APS Pacific Division, Sacramento, June 27 -29. Noma presented the results of her MS research in a Graduate Student Oral Presentation Competition at this conference.


Danny Humphreys, PhD student with Dr. Axel Elling, received the Nathan A. Cobb Foundation Student Travel Award from the Society of Nematologists (SON) This competitive award supports nematology graduate students’ attendance at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Society of Nematologists in Savannah, Georgia, August 12-15. Danny will be presenting results of his PhD dissertation research at this conference.


Diwaker Tripathi, PhD student with Dr. Hanu Pappu, received a travel grant from the American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) ( This travel award will support the student’s attendance at the 2012 annual meeting of ASPB- Plant Biology 2012 in Austin, TX, July 20-24. Diwaker will present a part of his PhD dissertation research at this conference.




Mycological Herbarium Dedication Ceremony

The Shaw Mycological Herbarium dedication ceremony was featured in the June issue of Phytopathology News, the official monthly newsletter of the American Phytopathological Society. Hard copy of the newsletter is distributed to more than 5,000 members worldwide.

The Mycological Herbarium in the Department of Plant Pathology was formally named in honor of Charles Gardner Shaw. Gardner, as he was widely
known, was a long-time faculty member and former chair of the Department of Plant Pathology. He was responsible for its growth and evolution in its modern form. The Shaw
family has provided an endowment for the operation of the herbarium. The dedication was attended by Gardner’s sons, Charles Gardner III (Terry) and Mark, and their families and
other family members. Remarks relevant to the dedication were made by Daniel J. Bernardo, dean, CAHNRS; Hanu Pappu, chair, Department of Plant Pathology; and faculty members Lori Carris, Frank Dugan (USDA ARS), and Jack Rogers. WSU President Elson Floyd attended the dedication ceremony, and a celebration followed the event, which was organized by CAHNRS Alumni and Friends.

The C. G. Shaw Herbarium contains about 73,000 specimens of fungi and a few lichens from throughout the world, being especially rich in fungi from the Pacific Northwest.
There are particularly valuable collections of destructive plant pathogens, including rust, smut, downy mildew, powdery mildew, pyrenomycetous fungi, and fungi inhabiting grasses and forest trees. The contents of the C. G. Shaw Herbarium are online and searchable. Loans are made worldwide to mycologists and plant pathologists. The herbarium is considered a world resource
for food security owing to its status as a major collection of fungi pathogenic to food crops.

Dr. Shaw was a well-known teacher, forest pathologist, and world authority on downy mildew fungi. He published two editions of Host-Fungus Index for the Pacific Northwest, Vol.1 Hosts and Vol. 2 Fungi. The contents of these volumes were put online by Dean A. Glawe, professor, Department of Plant Pathology.

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