College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Plant Pathology

June in the News

WSU Plant Pathology Department Well Represented At The Fourth International Sudden Oak Death Science Symposium

The WSU Department of Plant Pathology and WSU Puyallup were well represented at the recent Fourth International Sudden Oak Death (SOD) Science Symposium, which was held in Santa Cruz, CA on June 15-18, 2009. The Symposium included 57 presentations and 45 posters, and had 215 attendees from eight countries and 19 states.

Dr. Gary Chastagner, Professor of Plant Pathology and located at the WSU Puyallup R and E Center, gave an invited presentation entitled “Spread of P. ramorum from Nurseries into Waterways – Implications for Pathogen Establishment in New Areas” in the opening session. He also gave a presentation entitled “Symptoms Associated with Inoculation of Stems on Living Douglas-fir and Grand Fir Trees with Phytophthora ramorum” and a poster presentation entitled “Effect of Fungicides on the Isolation of Phytophthora ramorum From Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Rhododendron Leaf Tissue”.  Katie Coats, a Research Associate in charge of the WSU Puyallup Molecular Bioscience Lab gave an oral presentation entitled “An Update on Microsatellite Genotype Information of Phytophthora ramorum in Washington State Nurseries” and a poster presentation entitled “Effect of Surface Sterilization Treatments on the Detection and Viability of Phytophthora ramorum on Various Substrates”. Dr. Marianne Elliott, a Research Associate and WSU SOD Education Coordinator, gave a poster presentation entitled “Susceptibility, Severity, and Sporulation Potential of Phytophthora ramorum on Several Rhododendron Species and Hybrids”. Kathy Riley, a Professional Worker I, gave a poster presentation entitled “Influence of Nitrogen Fertility on the Susceptibility of Rhododendrons to Phytophthora ramorum”. Graduate student Katie McKeever (Dr. Chastagner), whose MS degree research project involves studies to determine the potential for P. ramorum to sporulate on conifers, was awarded an Integrated Hardwood Resource Management’s Student Scholarship to attend the symposium.

In addition to the WSU employees who participated in the symposium, the WSU Department of Plant Pathology was one of 8 organizations that helped sponsor this event. For those wishing to access the presentations, it is anticipated that they will be posted to the symposium website by September 1st along with the accompanying audio.  For questions regarding the proceedings from this meeting, contact Katie Palmieri at


Faculty attends US-Africa Connections Workshop

Dr. Hanu Pappu, Chair, was invited to attend the ‘US-Africa Connections Workshop’ in Nairobi, Kenya, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, June 18-23, 2009.  Dr. Pappu met with several scientists from countries in sub-Saharan Africa and held discussions with them to identify areas of common interests and explored potential linkages with our department.

Feature in Science Magazine

Research by Dr. Linda Thomashow, Research Geneticist with USDA-ARS and adjunct professor in the department was quoted in the June 26 issue of Science. Congratulations to Dr. Thomashow!

Workshop Held in Mt Vernon

A 2-day, hands-on, laboratory workshop titled “Propidium Monoazide Carrot Bacterial Blight Seed Assay Workshop” was held at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC on June16-17. The workshop was organized by Lindsey du Toit (WSU), Ken Johnson (Oregon State University Dept. of Botany and Plant Pathology), Mike Derie (WSU), and Todd Temple (OSU Dept. of Botany and Plant Pathology), and was attended by pathologists from seven seed companies as well as a faculty member from OSU. The objective of the workshop was to demonstrate to seed industry stakeholders how to use a DNA-binding dye, propidium monoazide, to differentiate DNA of live vs. dead cells of the pathogen Xanthomonas hortorum pv. carotae in carrot seed samples, combined with two quantitative methods of detecting DNA of the pathogen, a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay and a loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) PCR assay. The workshop was part of a 2 year research project to develop a rapid, sensitive, DNA-based seed assay for the carrot bacterial blight pathogen that only amplifies DNA from live cells of the target pathogen. The research project and workshop were funded by the California Fresh Carrot Advisory Board with matching funding from Alf Christianson Seed Co.; Bejo Zaden B.V.; Nunhems USA, Inc.; Sakata Seed America, Inc.; Seminis Vegetable Seeds; and Vilmorin SA.

Participants in the workshop included:
Margreet Asma,Research Seed Pathologist at Bejo Zaden B.V. in Warmenhuizen, THE NETHERLANDS;
Traven Bentley, Plant Pathologist with Alf Christianson Seed Co. in Mount Vernon, WA;
Wendy English,Seed Health Coordinator for Sakata Seed America, Inc. based out of Salinas, CA;
Rodolphe Germain, Plant Pathologist for VILMORIN SA in La Menitre, FRANCE;
Hubert Lybeert, Seed Pathology Research Manager for Clause Vegetable Seeds in Valence, FRANCE;
Peter Rogers, Research Pathologist for Nunhems USA in Brooks, OR;
Sagayamary Sagayaradj, Research Assistant in Molecular Breeding for Nunhems USA in Davis, CA;
Scott Sinn,Research Assistant in the Seed Health Department for Nunhems USA Inc. in Brooks, OR;
Carla van Baar,Research Assistant in Seed Pathology for Bejo Zaden B.V. in Warmenhuizen, THE NETHERLANDS;
Bo Ming Wu,Plant Pathologist/Assistant Professor at Oregon State University Madras COARC, Madras, OR.

In addition, some of the lab equipment and supplies for the workshop were loaned and/or provided at a discount by Lindsey Fletcher and Vanessa Duford from QIAGEN Inc. The participants visited beautiful Deception Pass and Mount Erie in Skagit and Island Counties after the workshop. Click here for more photos.

Lindsey du Toit Wins 2009 Kenneth J. Morrison Extension Award

Dr. Lindsey du Toit, Extension Specialist in Vegetable Seed Pathology, Mt. Vernon Research and Extension Center, has been awarded the 2009 Kenneth J. Morrison Extension Award for her numerous outstanding contributions to the improvement of Washington State’s crop production.  This award, established in 1987, recognizes annually those individuals who have made significant contributions to agriculture in the State of Washington, especially in agronomic crop production and/or soil management.  The award will be formally presented to Lindsey at the field day at Mt. Vernon on July 9th.  Congratulations, Lindsey!!

Plant Health Progress Editor’s Pick 

A review article, “The Importance of Reporting New Host-Fungus Records for Ornamental and Regional Crops” authored by
Frank Dugan, Dean Glawe, Renuka Attanayake (PhD student with Dr. Chen) and Weidong Chen, published in the May 2009 issue of the APS on-line journal, Plant Health Progress was this month’s Editor’s pick.


Tospovirus Research Highlighted in APS Journals Online Research Update

Research on thrips-transmitted tospoviruses by Sudeep Bag, Research Associate in Dr. Hanu Pappu’s lab was featured in the recent APS Journals Online Research Update.

WSU Today Feature

A featue was done on the recent PGPR (Plant Growth-Promoting Rhizobacteria) Conference held in May in the June 3 edition of WSU Today.

Department Chair Meets with Dean of the College of Ag at Alexandria University

Dr. Hanu Pappu, Department Chair, met with Dr. Morsi El Soda, Dean of College of Agriculture, Alexandria University, Alexandria, Egypt and held discussions to explore areas of mutual interest for collaborations.  The College of Agriculture is one of the largest within the university and has 18 departments including Plant Pathology, Pomology, Vegetable Crops, Field Crops, Entomology, and Dairy Science.  From left, Dr. Sami El Rakshy, Assistant Professor, Department of Pomology, Hanu Pappu, Dean Dr. El Soda, and Dr. Hesham Gaber, Vice Dean.

Wheat Life Feature

Dr. Tim Murray wrote a feature entitled “The Borlaug Global Rust Initiative: what is it and why should we care?” that was published in the June issue of Wheat Life.

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