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Plant Pathogen Research Gets More Funds
Objective Is Better Detection and Alleviation of Downy Mildew


Downy mildew, technically not a fungi but a collection of pathogens caused by water molds, has increased in prevalence in recent years.

The Horticulture Research Institute announced that USDA's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service allocated over $425,000 in special funding to continue studies on downy mildew, which can cause devastating disease problems in plants.

Downy mildew is a term used to define a collection of similar pathogens caused by water molds, or Oomycetes. While not technically fungi, these microorganisms have increased in prevalence in recent years.

The research money will be provided through the Farm Bill to continue studies this year on the detection and mitigation of the pathogens on impatiens, cucurbits, hops, and basil.

Impatiens downy mildew (IDM), caused by Plasmopara obduscens, today is considered the biggest limiting factor in I. walleriana production in landscape beds.

The research team is made up of Dr. JoAnne Crouch, USDA-ARS, Ms. Margery Daughtrey, Cornell University, Dr. Mary Hausbeck, Michigan State University, Dr. Aaron Palmateer, University of Florida, Dr. Cristi Palmer, IR-4 Project, Dr. Lina Quesada-Ocampo, North Carolina State University, and Dr. Nina Shishkoff, USDA-ARS. As a stakeholder, AmericanHort was invited to participate as well.

Their efforts include a breeding program for IDM resistance, discerning the life cycle and disease cycle of P. obduscens, developing an early detection method for greenhouses, and evaluating fungicide control options. IDM has already been identified this year in Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas.

AmericanHort, in conjunction with other interested organizations, such as the Society of American Florists, supported funding of this research through the Farm Bill Section 10007. This collaboration is coordinated by the IR-4 Project, a USDA-sponsored entity that works to expand the specialty crop industry's access to pest management tools.

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October 21, 2019, 1:39 pm PDT

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