Navigation Links
UC Riverside researcher receives $9 million USDA grant to study potato and tomato disease
Date:3/30/2011

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Late blight, caused by a fungus-like microbe, is a plant disease that mainly attacks potatoes and tomatoes, is difficult and economically challenging to eradicate, and was largely responsible for the Irish potato famine of the mid-19th century.

Given that world potato production is about 320 million tons per year (20 million tons per year in the United States) and world tomato production is about 120 million tons per year (13 million tons per year in the U.S.), late blight is a major problem worldwide even today. With total costs of the disease estimated at more than $7 billion per year, it can drive farmers out of business and increase food prices.

Howard Judelson, a professor of plant pathology at the University of California, Riverside, has received a $9 million five-year grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) to research late blight and ensure a sustainable and long-term control of this devastating disease.

"Late blight is a global problem," said Judelson who will lead a multidisciplinary team of extension faculty and researchers plant pathologists, molecular biologists, epidemiologists, plant breeders, sociologists and economists at universities, government labs and a nonprofit research institution. "To manage this disease, which is favored by cool, moist weather, we need a multipronged approach. In this research project, we will develop an integrated plan of research, education and extension that includes developing diagnostic tools, resistant plants through breeding and biotechnology, and systems to provide improved management guidelines to growers."

USDA Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Cathie Woteki visited UC Riverside today (March 30) to make a formal announcement of the research grant and meet with Judelson as well as other UCR scientists and administrators.

"More than 40 percent of current crop production among the top 10 food crops is lost to pests and diseases annually and that is a huge loss for farmers," Woteki said. "USDA is funding this project to help agricultural producers win the future by ensuring our country can keep producing the food needed to meet rising global demand in a sustainable way."

Late blight symptoms include the appearance of dark lesions on leaf tips and plant stems. In humid conditions, white mold appears under the leaves. Infected potatoes show gray or dark patches outside; inside, such potatoes show reddish brown lesions. A threat to home gardeners and commercial farmers, the disease can wipe out tomato and potato fields within a week.

The disease is caused by Phytophthora infestans, the most significant pathogen of potato, and a noteworthy tomato pest. Spores of the pathogen primarily travel in air, eventually landing on plants where the spores colonize leaves and cause them to die. Spores also can enter the soil, reach potato tubers, and destroy them. Available fungicides tend to be expensive and have potentially adverse environmental effects. Moreover, some strains of the pathogen are resistant to some fungicides.

"This grant to Dr. Judelson builds on historic UC Riverside strengths in research on this pathogen and is one more acknowledgement that UC Riverside is a leader in agricultural research," said Donald Cooksey, divisional dean for agriculture and natural resources in UCR's College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. "By leading research on managing late blight, we will help protect the productivity of tomato and potato farmers worldwide."

The research project will emphasize providing growers with better tools for managing the disease. These include better systems for making disease management decisions, plant varieties that are more resistant, tools for rapid identification of the pathogen, and tools for characterizing pathogen strains. The researchers also will test and expand the use of social media and smartphone technology to communicate with growers.

In the United States, late blight is seen predominantly on potato in eastern states like Maine, New York and Pennsylvania, and outbreaks also occur in the Midwest and West. Tomato production from Florida up the East Coast is also vulnerable to the disease. In California, late blight is mostly seen in the central valley in the early season, when conditions are moist and cool.

"For many years, UCR has been on the cutting edge of research to eradicate agricultural pests," said Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.). "This grant acknowledges the valuable work that UCR does and with the grant they will be able to help farmers around the world deal with late blight. I commend Professor Judelson for his work in plant pathology and the entire staff of the UCR College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences for the contributions they will be making to combat the devastating impacts of late blight."

Judelson will be joined at UCR by Thomas Girke, an associate professor of bioinformatics, who will help sequence strains of Phytophthora infestans, and scientists at Cornell University, N.Y.; USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Corvallis, Ore.; the University of Idaho; the Scottish Crop Research Institute; North Carolina State University; the University of Florida; the University of Kentucky; La Universidad Autnoma Chapingo, Mexico; Boyce Thompson Institute, N.Y.; the University of Maine; Oregon State University; Pennsylvania State University; the University of Wisconsin; the University of Maryland; the University of South Carolina; and Purdue University, Ind.

The grant, which became effective March 1, 2011, has a strong undergraduate research component. Of the $9 million total award, $4.3 million is budgeted to UCR for research and education activities; the rest will be shared by the other 16 institutions.


'/>"/>

Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. UC Riverside geneticists to study how plants adapt to a changing environment
2. Flood-tolerant rice plants can also survive drought, say UC Riverside scientists
3. UC Riverside geneticist elected home secretary of the National Academy of Sciences
4. 10 UC Riverside researchers recognized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science
5. Electronic cigarettes are unsafe and pose health risks, UC Riverside study finds
6. Discovery by UC Riverside entomologists could shrink dengue-spreading mosquito population
7. Hybrid tugboat cuts emissions, University of California, Riverside study shows
8. UC Riverside cell biologist to investigate how malaria parasite multiplies in red blood cells
9. UC Riverside is platinum sponsor of national conference attracting high-achieving minority students
10. Researchers at UC Riverside find solution to cell death problem vexing stem cell research
11. Capacity for exercise can be inherited, UC Riverside biologists find
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
UC Riverside researcher receives $9 million USDA grant to study potato and tomato disease
(Date:6/2/2016)... --  The Weather Company , an IBM Business (NYSE: ... in which consumers will be able to interact with IBM ... voice or text and receive relevant information about the product ... have long sought an advertising solution that can create a ... and valuable; and can scale across millions of interactions and ...
(Date:5/16/2016)... , May 16, 2016   EyeLock LLC , ... announced the opening of an IoT Center of Excellence ... and expand the development of embedded iris biometric applications. ... level of convenience and security with unmatched biometric accuracy, ... identity aside from DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses video technology ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... Sweden , April 28, 2016 First ... M (139.9), up 966% compared with the first quarter of 2015 ... profit totaled SEK 589.1 M (loss: 18.8) and the operating margin ... 7.12 (loss: 0.32) Cash flow from operations was SEK ... The 2016 revenue guidance is unchanged, SEK 7,000-8,500 M. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... innovative medical technologies, services and solutions to the healthcare market. The company's primary ... various distribution, manufacturing, sales and marketing strategies that are necessary to help companies ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016  Liquid Biotech ... announced the funding of a Sponsored Research Agreement ... circulating tumor cells (CTCs) from cancer patients.  The ... in CTC levels correlate with clinical outcomes in ... These data will then be employed to support ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... discussions on a range of subjects including policies, debt and ... Poloz. Speaking at a lecture to the Canadian ... to the country,s inflation target, which is set by both ... "In certain areas there needs to be ... why not sit down and address strategy together?" ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers use ... 6000i models are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of 20mm. ... from the bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several Agilent ...
Breaking Biology Technology: