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Plant Pathology

Book - Briefly Noted
Winter 2017

Briefly noted for Winter 2017

 

Untold Stories: Forty Years of Field Research on Root Diseases of Wheat

By R. James Cook

American Phytopathological Society Press: 2017

Throughout the compelling stories and personal experiences shared by Jim Cook, a retired research plant pathologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and emeritus professor of plant pathology at Washington State University, readers can find practical crop management techniques and other beneficial information that can be used in the field and the lab. Cook also chronicles many of his insightful experiences—and imparts his philosophy, wisdom, and practical guidance.

 

Living on the Edge: Adventures of a Hunter

By Shannon L. … » More …

White Willow. Wikimedia
Fall 2017

Medicinal plants

At least 10 percent of the 250 most essential modern medicines are derived from flowering plants.

Aspirin (genus Salix)  Known to the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians, Hippocrates in about 400 BCE mentions the use of salicylic tea as a fever reducer. Willow bark extracts have been a standard component of the European pharmacopoeia ever since. Modern aspirin was first synthesized in 1853.

Cinnamon bark (obtained from the inner bark of trees of the genus Cinnamomum)  While there is no scientific evidence of its efficacy (yet), cinnamon has been used medicinally for at least 4,000 years, especially in Ayurvedic medicine. The word derives from an ancient Phoenician one … » More …

Mushrooms, after the rains
Spring 2017

After the rains

WSU meteorologist Nic Loyd is stuck on one word for last October’s Washington weather: Wet.

Make that two words: Abnormally wet. Sea-Tac measured over 10 inches of rainfall. Even dry Yakima saw almost 2-1/2 inches. But the undisputed epicenter of soggy conditions was Spokane which registered not only their rainiest October ever, but the highest precipitation for any month ever recorded: a whopping 6-1/4 inches. That’s remarkable when compared to an average October rainfall of just 1-1/4 inches. Especially given that their typical annual total is just over 16 inches.

Loyd says this was due to an unusually deep and persistent trough of low pressure … » More …

Cultivated tobacco micrograph
Spring 2012

Micrographs from WSU’s Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center

Washington State University’s Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center deploys half a dozen different microscopes in pursuit of the small. Researchers from a wide variety of academic fields use these tools to see and visualize their work, often producing beautiful micrographs of specimens with light microscopes, scanning electron microscopes (SEM), transmission electron microscopes (TEM), fluorescence microscopes, or confocal microscopes.

Winter 2016

Saving citrus from a sour end

An invader is sweeping like fire through the citrus groves of Florida. The Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus bacterium causes citrus greening, a disease that block trees’ nutrient and water channels and prevents fruit from ripening.

“It’s like choking the tree from the inside out,” says David Gang, a Washington State University molecular biologist and biochemist who is collaborating with a large, multi-institution, interdisciplinary team to combat the disease. If left unaddressed, the entire U.S. citrus industry could be wiped out and, as Florida Senator Bill Nelson said a few years ago, “We’ll end up paying $5 for an orange—and it’ll have to be one imported from … » More …

Morels
Summer 2016

Safe mushrooming 101

Advice and tips from Washington State University mycologist Lori Carris on safe hunting for mushrooms.

Read about morel mushrooms and Carris’s research.

Basic tips

Learn the rules & regulations for your area
Learn to recognize the common edible mushrooms AND poisonous mushrooms
Eat mushrooms in moderation even when you are confident of identification
Always cook mushrooms thoroughly before eating.
When in doubt, throw it out.

A good guidebook is essential

A mushroom guide should be:

Easy to use, with lots of color pictures
Accurate & up to date
Relevant to the area in which you are … » More …

Asparagus and morels. Photo Bruce Andre
Summer 2016

Morels

Mysterious. Elusive. Delicious.

The smell of rain-soaked earth permeated the logged-over clearing in the woods in mid-May as my friend Mike and I peered closely at the ground and walked slowly. We were hunting mushrooms.

Mike’s more adept eyes spotted a cluster of light brown, honeycombed caps. He sliced the morel mushrooms with his knife. After a while we filled a small bucket, which we took back to Mike’s mom. She battered and fried them and, as a teenager in northeast Washington years ago, I had my first taste of the rich flavor of the wild Northwest mushroom.

Mike and I had likely picked Morchella … » More …

Staff photoillustration/Wikimedia
Summer 2013

Why aren’t plants more sick than they are?

Why are plants immune to most of the diseases surrounding them in the environment? Lee Hadwiger, Washington State University professor of plant pathology, has been wrestling with this question most of his career.

Were it not for a commonplace but mysterious trait called non-host resistance (NHR), plants would be constantly attacked by fungi, bacteria, and other pathogens swarming in the air, soil, and bodies. For the most part, plants are immune to those challenges because NHR gives them their robust and durable immunity to the myriad pathogens challenging them.

In the January issue of Phytopathology, Hadwiger and his colleague, USDA Agricultural Research Service plant pathologist … » More …

Lindsay du Toit with spinach
Spring 2013

Spinach is suspect: A pathological mystery

The case started a few years ago when a farmer approached seed pathologist Lindsey du Toit at WSU Mount Vernon wondering what was damaging his spinach seed crop out in the field. He had planted on clean ground that hadn’t had spinach before. He wondered if maybe the stock seed had a problem.

“It didn’t make sense,” says du Toit, explaining that what happened to the plants didn’t fit with the known diseases. At the time, du Toit and one of her graduate students were looking at fungal pathogens in the seeds of spinach plants. About 75 percent of the spinach seed grown in … » More …