College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Plant Pathology

October in the News

Faculty Featured in Washington State Magazine

Ongoing research by Dr. Brenda Schroeder, assistant professor in the department, was featured in the winter 2012 issue of the Washington State Magazine.

Dr. Schroeder’s research focus is on bacterial diseases of vegetable crops, with emphasis on the study of pathogenicity and virulence factors by bacterial plant pathogens. She 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.


Dr. Dennis Johnson Presented with the 2012 Kenneth J. Morrison Extension Award in Crop and Soil Sciences

Dr. Dennis Johnson, professor in the department, was presented with the 2012 Kenneth J. Morrison Extension Award in Crop and Soil Sciences.  Dr. Rich Koenig, chair of crops and soil sciences and CAHNRS Associate Dean for Extension presented the award to Dr. Johnson at a special departmental event held in Vogel on October 22nd. The award was established in 1987 for the purpose of recognizing annually an Extension faculty member who has made outstanding contributions to Washington state’s agriculture, especially in agronomic crop production improvement and/or soil management. Dr. Johnson is a Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society, an Honorary Life Member of the Potato Association of America, a recipient of the Friend of the Washington Mint Industry Award, and Past President of the American Phytopathological Society – Pacific Division.


Onion Seed Safari, University Role in Agricultural Extension
On 9-10 October 2012, Lindsey du Toit participated as one of two guest speakers in the Onion Seed Safari in the Klein Karoo, South Africa. The event was organized by Klein Karoo Seed Production (KKSP), based out of Oudtshoorn, South Africa, and was attended by 85 onion seed farmers in South Africa as well as seed production managers. On 9 October, attendees toured numerous onion seed crops in the Klein Karoo to observe and discuss disease management. Chris Barnard, farmer and irrigation consultant, was the second guest speaker on the tour who spoke on irrigation management in onion seed crops. On 10 October, Lindsey du Toit gave a presentation titled “Disease management for sustainable onion seed production: What? Who? How? Why?”. Other presentations were made by Chris Barnard on irrigation management; Theunis Engelbrecht on honeybee management in onion seed production; Pieter Burger, on general aspects of onion seed production; and David Malan, Managing Director of KKSP, on an overview of the current status of onion seed production in South Africa and globally. Photos of the Seed Safari can be found at the AgriEden website at: with summaries of the event at: and

On 12 October, Lindsey was invited to lead a discussion titled “The University Role in Agricultural Extension: Lessons from Washington State University” to faculty in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.


Dr. Gary Chastagner (aka Dr. Christmas Tree) Recognized
Congratulations to Dr. Gary Chastagner, Professor of Plant Pathology and located in Puyallup REC. He co-authored the OSU Christmas Tree Nutrient Management Guide which received the Extension Education Materials of Excellence Award.

Dr. Chastagner, for the past several years, has worked with the OSU coauthors on the effect of fertility levels on current season needle necrosis and provided the biomass accumulation data that were used to estimate nutrient uptake values.

Dr. Chastagner is working on ways to improve the sustainability of Christmas tree industry which is valued at nearly US $1 billion in the US. Besides his expertise in Christmas tree health and postharvest quality, he conducts research and extension on diseases of ornamental bulbs.

He was a recipient of the National Christmas Tree Association’s Outstanding Service Award, and Excellence in Extension Award from the American Phytopathological Society.


Guest Seminar by Visiting Scientist from China

Dr. Jun Zhao of Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Huhhot, Inner Mongolia, China, presented a special guest seminar on October 3.  Her seminar was entitled “Unraveling the regulation mechanism of small G protein on the establishment of potato resistance to potato late blight”.  Zhao was hosted by Dr. Weidong Chen, USDA-ARS and adjunct professor in the department to discuss research and management of Sclerotinia diseases.  While in Washington, Zhao also toured sunflower seed production and operation hosted by the Precision Seed Production in Ephrata, WA.

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