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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Alternatives to methyl bromide soil fumigation for vegetable and floriculture production Title: Impact and legacy of R. Charudattan in biological control of weeds

Authors
item Rosskopf, Erin
item Shabana, Y. - UNIV. OF FLORIDA
item Devalerio, J. - UNIV. OF FLORIDA
item Elliott, M. - UNIV. OF FLORIDA
item Yandoc-Ables, C. - NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCI.

Submitted to: Weed Science Society of America Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 11, 2011
Publication Date: February 7, 2009
Citation: Rosskopf, E.N., Shabana, Y., Devalerio, J., Elliott, M., Yandoc-Ables, C. 2009. Impact and legacy of R. Charudattan in biological control of weeds. Weed Science Society of America Meeting Abstracts.

Technical Abstract: Raghavan “Charu” Charudattan is highly regarded internationally as a scientist, professor, mentor, and friend. Charu has authored four books, more than 100 refereed manuscripts, 24 book chapters, and hundreds of other publications. He holds 11 patents in the area of biological control of weeds and served as a founder of the highly regarded journal, Biological Control: Theory and Application in Pest Management. Charu’s career has focused on the use of plant pathogens to control weeds. This discipline requires creativity and integration of a vast array of skills in plant pathology, weed ecology, product formulation, and application technology. He has been recognized by his peers in several disciplines; being honored as a Fellow of both the American Phytopathological Society and the Weed Science Society of America. Early in his career, Charu applied classical biological control principles to weeds in aquatic, agronomic systems and natural areas. Because many weeds are exotic species, Charu assumed a global perspective to identify potential biological control agents. His diligent efforts to establish relationships with fellow scientists worldwide facilitated his ability to identify biocontrol agents for weeds in the southeast, and to advance the science of biological control of weeds internationally. He has collaborated with scientists and students from more than 15 countries and was instrumental in the development of protocols to regulate importation and release of foreign pathogens as biological control agents in the United States. Some examples of Charu’s work include using Phomopsis amaranthicola on pigweeds, Fusarium culmorum on hydrilla, Cercospora rodmanii on water hyacinth, Alternaria cassiae on sicklepod, and Dactylaria higginsii on nutsedge. During the 1980s Charu discovered that microbial toxins could be used to enhance the efficacy of biological control agents or as natural herbicides and expanded his program to assess these novel herbicidal compounds from microbes. As a result of this highly successful research, the contribution of mycotoxins to weed suppression is routinely assessed, especially with respect to fungi. In 1989, Charu assisted scientists at Australia’s CSIRO in identifying the host specific rust fungus, Puccinia evadens, as a biological control agent for Baccharis halimifolia, which was introduced from Florida and had become invasive in grazing lands in eastern Australia. Charu has consistently been on the cutting edge of plant pathology research and has applied newly emerging tools to weed biological control pathosystems taking risks and exploring approaches that were considered unconventional. In the mid-1990s he took a very novel approach in his attempts to genetically engineer Xanthomonas isolates with genes for bialaphos production, resulting in isolates with enhanced virulence. Charu and his students were the first researchers to routinely apply the use of nucleotide sequence information for the speciation of isolates used for biological control. His group also investigated the use of a multiple pathogen mixture to combat mixed grass weeds in several agroecosystems. Charu discovered that a novel, viral agent was lethal to tropical soda apple, resulting in the registration of a commercial biological control agent, Solvinix, and the founding of a private company, BioProdex, Inc., which shares the patent rights with the University of Florida. In addition to the novel scientific approaches that he applied to bioherbicide development, he has taken the practical aspects of crop production into account in his work as well. He and his students have performed some of the earliest investigations on the effects of pesticides that could be tank mixed with bioherbicides, as well as investigations of the role of adjuvants and surfactants in enhancing bioherbicide efficacy. While it is possible to continue to cite examples of Charu’s contributions to the discipline of Biological Control of Weeds, it must be noted that those laurels share the stage with the contributions he has made to the lives of his colleagues, students, employees, and friends. Those close to Charu know a person who is naturally honest and fair who approaches all obstacles with integrity and tenacity. He possesses a natural curiosity for science; a trait that he has bestowed on everyone he has mentored. As his career at the University of Florida winds down we must celebrate the impact he has had on the weed science community, both professionally and personally, and know it will be felt for many years to come.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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