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Kylie Dale Swisher

Research Associate


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Kylie Swisher Grimm Research Plant Pathologist

BS Whitworth University
PhD University of Arizona

Research Interests:

Understanding new and emerging diseases of potato.

Aims:

Identification and characterization of novel pathogens found in the field, development of new techniques to improve diagnostics of various pathogens in potatoes and insect vectors and use of greenhouse or field trials to explore the pathogen-host-vector relationship. 

Background:

The Northwestern United States accounts for over 50% of the total US potato production each year. Growers in this region are continually monitoring their crop for damage caused by pathogens that can be soil-borne or insect-vectored. Unfortunately, the correlation of specific pathogens to potato disease symptoms can be complicated by pathogens inducing similar host responses and symptomology. Combating these pathogens generally requires a multi-faceted approach that focuses on overall soil health, genetic diversity that promotes pathogen insensitivities, and insect pest management strategies that control important insect pests. Plant and insect diagnostics provide key information to growers each year about pathogen prevalence and insect population dynamics. Therefore, improving diagnostic techniques and improving our understanding of disease epidemiology of important pathogens can save time and money for the growers. 

Approach:

Several methods will be required to determine the pathogenic nature of specific disease symptoms, including the use of graft transmission, molecular detection tools, and novel next generation sequencing analyses. Additionally, development of novel techniques and protocols is important for co-detection of multiple pathogens capable of inducing similar symptoms with the potato plant. The identification of unknown pathogens, or a complex of pathogens, can be an exceptionally difficult challenge, so rapid development and implementation of various techniques necessary to identify and report pathogenic issues that arise in potato is important for the timely identification and dissemination of results to the industry.

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