College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences

Department of Plant Pathology

Two Students Awarded Fellowships

Andrea Garfinkel, PhD student with Gary Chastgner, and Shannon Carmody, MS student with Lindsey du Toit, were two of the nine recipients of the 2016 Western SARE Graduate Student Competitive Grants Program (  The mission of the program is to “foster sustainability through grants that enable cutting-edge research and education to open windows on sustainability across the West.”  The proposals were to address issues in sustainable agriculture of current and potential importance to the western region. Congratulations!  For a look at the full list of graduate students funded, see: Andrea and Shannon’s project descriptions follow:

GW16-021, “Identification of Peony Diseases in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska,” Graduate Student: Andrea Garfinkel, Washington; $24,979.

Little research has been done to diagnose the causal agents of various diseases that affect peony. Through recent efforts focused on identifying species of Botrytis on peony, it has become increasingly clear that the current literature surrounding peony pathogens is inadequate. Limited sampling of peony pathogens has identified the existence of two Garfinkel webpathogens not previously reported in the U.S. While peonies have historically been a small-acreage crop, a surge of growth in production has been observed in the western U.S, especially in Alaska where the cut peony flowers are being produced at a time of year when no other country in the world is able to harvest this crop due to differences in environmental conditions. As a result, peonies are becoming a major economic force in the state of Alaska. Many Alaskan growers are sourcing this peony rootstock material from farms located in Washington and Oregon; thus, multiple Pacific Northwest farmers are being impacted by Alaska’s increasing production. Through discussions with farmers, it has become clear that both cut flower and rootstock producers are in need of knowledge and education about the pathogens that cause disease on their crops in order to maintain the vitality of this emerging industry. This project will survey for and identify causal agents of various peony diseases throughout the Western region of the U.S., as well as in other economically-important and informative peony producing states. A survey of samples will elucidate not only the different pathogens infecting peony, but also the frequency at which they occur in each of the peony-producing regions. The collected information will be used to produce an updated growers’ guide and to hold hands-on grower education training through many of the pre-established networks.

GW16-055, “Seed Transmission and Management of White Leaf Spot and Light Leaf Spot Pathogens in Brassicas in the Pacific Northwest,” Graduate Student: Shannon Carmody, Washington; $15,675.

In 2014, outbreaks of two new brassica diseases to the Pacific Northwest were documented in the Willamette Valley, Oregon: white leaf spot and light leaf spot. In addition, black leg was detected in >43 of 61 field sites in the Willamette Valley in 2014. Not only had white leaf spot (WLS) and light leaf spot (LLS) not been previously documented to occur in the Pacific Northwest, but LLS had not previously been reported in North America. All three pathogens can be seedborne iCarmody smn brassicas. In early 2015, black leg also was detected in >18 dryland canola fields in west-central Idaho and in two irrigated canola fields in northeastern Oregon. Brassica crops are important in Washington State. Based on 2012 USDA Agricultural Census data, there were >21,520 acres of brassicas planted in Washington that year. This project will explore how the WLS and LLS pathogens, which are new to the Pacific Northwest, are transmitted as seedborne pathogens on several brassica species important to this region. If the presence of these new pathogens is documented in Washington State, information gained through this research will be published as Disease Notes in Plant Disease.


Department of Plant Pathology, PO Box 646430, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6430, 509-335-9541, Contact Us
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