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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Mycology and Nematology Genetic Diversity and Biology Laboratory » Research » Research Project #439241

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

Location: Mycology and Nematology Genetic Diversity and Biology Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-22000-298-44-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 31, 2024

Objective:
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. ARS will use fluorescent imaging and confocal laser scanning microscopy to examine and quantify infection, pathogen colonization and systemic infection of living boxwood hosts by different genotypes of the boxwood blight fungi; and will perform phenotypic analyses to determine whether pathogen genotypes are correlated with phenotypic traits such as virulence and whether there is a correlation in disease severity between pathogen genotype and host genotype.

Approach:
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.