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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Research Project #439097

Research Project: Improving Boxwood Blight Mitigation Through Innovation, Economic Analysis and Education

Location: Floral and Nursery Plants Research

Project Number: 8020-21000-087-003-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 31, 2025

The objective of the proposed research is to mitigate boxwood blight using the following strategies: reducing boxwood blight spread caused by Calonectria pseudonaviculata (Cps) via the nursery trade; better manage the disease at sites of contamination; build resilience into boxwood production and plantings; understand the economic, environmental and social benefits of boxwood blight mitigation; establish a national infrastructure for forecasting, detecting, and communicating new box blight infections and outbreaks of other invasive species; and develop a new generation of scientists and educators ready to tackle increasingly complex issues facing the nation’s specialty crop industry in a global economy and changing climate.

The team will use a multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary approach to accomplish the objectives, including developing immunostrip kits for detection; surveying nurseries for infection; determining latent infection and disease epidemiology; developing protocols for mitigation such as anti-transpirants and thermal inactivation; enhancing boxwood disease resistance; validating and utilizing infection risk models and decision-making tools; determining variation in fungal genetics; and transferring the resulting technologies and knowledge to end users. USNA scientists will screen boxwood hybrids for tolerance and susceptibility to boxwood blight and genotype hybrids for genetic mapping studies for identification of resistance loci for long-term sustainable resistant against the boxwood blight pathogen. Detached leaf assays will be used to screen for resistance, genotyping assays will be conducted to identify genetic loci associated with resistance for molecular marker develop and systemic acquired resistance experiments using UV-C irradiation and silicon micronutrient treatments will be conducted to identify induced mechanisms of resistance through molecular or biochemical pathways.