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Research Project: Establishing the Infrastructure to Develop Prediction Tools for Diseases & Mycotoxins Affecting Corn & Cotton to Better Inform Mgmt Decisions (LSU)

Location: National Programs

Project Number: 0500-00102-001-08-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jun 5, 2020
End Date: Jun 4, 2021

Objective:
Develop predictive modeling tools for Northern corn leaf blight (NCLB) and gray leaf spot (GLS) of corn. For cotton, the first objective is to create DNA detection tools for cotton pathogens that can be multiplexed and deployed in air sampling systems. The second objective is to establish the association between initial inoculum, disease development and weather in sentinel plots to build and validate pathogen models. The third objective is to install passive air samplers in commercial cotton fields located near the Sentinel plots and capture daily weather data. The fourth objective is to create a cotton yield epidemiology model for Target Spot based on disease progress and pathogen load. The fifth objective is to archive all data, models, and samples from the previous objectives to allow future investigators to improve models and tools and to retrospectively identify invasive pathogens or virulent strains.

Approach:
For corn, working with the six other scientists on the project, two field trials will be conducted at Macon Ridge Research Station near Winnsboro, LA in areas where many years of continuous corn and reduced tillage practices have occurred. The trials will consist of hybrids susceptible and resistant to NCLB and GLS. Test areas will be divided in half by corn debris management (high debris vs. low debris) from the previous crop. Planting date will be staggered to capture overlapping environments conducive to disease development. Plots will be rated once weekly for NCLB and GLS. Burkhard spore traps purchased with initiative funds will be placed in the middle of each debris zone to sample via PCR for airborne infective propagules weekly for approximately 16 weeks through Dr. Alison Robertson’s lab (Iowa State University). Plots will be harvested to determine yield. Two weather stations will be purchased with initiative funds to monitor conditions at each test site. Approximately 50 corn fields in major production areas of Louisiana will be sampled during the season to detect the presence of pathogens via PCR through Dr. Robertson’s lab. For cotton, the Price lab at Louisiana State University will conduct an experiment as outlined under Objective 2 (establish a SENTINEL PLOT with active and passive sampling of air borne spores to build and validate pathogen models) of the project. The field experiment in Objective 2 will be established at the Macon Ridge Research Station near Winnsboro, LA. Dr. Price will supervise and work along with the Research Associates and student workers assigned to the project to collect, ship, and/or process plant tissue and aerosol samples, quantify target spot and other pathogens that infest the sites, and monitor cotton growth and weather conditions following the protocols detailed in the proposal. Research associates and student workers will also work with PIs in the other cotton participating states to organize, process, mine, and analyze weather, disease, and spore density data to quantity associations among measured responses, and eventually test and validate various risk assessment models.