Project Number: 8042-22000-323-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated
Start Date: Apr 15, 2022
End Date: Apr 14, 2027
Objective 1. Develop systematic knowledge for identification and classification of fungi and oomycetes that impact plant health. (NP303, C1, PS1A). Objective 2. Develop diagnostic assays, genomic data, molecular markers, and specimen images to identify and detect plant pathogens. (NP303, C1, PS1A, PS1B).
Fungi and fungal-like oomycetes are among the most destructive plant pathogens responsible for diseases of agricultural and natural ecosystems worldwide. Conversely, many other fungi are beneficial to agriculture and the environment, providing potent biological control of destructive insect pests and plant pathogens. Early, rapid and accurate identification of fungal pathogens and beneficials is critical to preventing major disease crises. Emerging, insect, and quarantine-significant pathogenic fungi in historically understudied groups important to U.S. agriculture will be studied using cutting edge molecular technologies to determine species boundaries, phylogenetic relationships and gene regions most useful for diagnostic methods development. The objectives of this project are to (1) develop systematic knowledge for identification and classification of fungi and oomycetes that impact plant health and (2) develop diagnostic assays, genomic data, molecular markers, and specimen images to identify and detect plant pathogens. This project will apply a suite of classical and state-of-the-art systematic approaches towards the common goal of characterizing molecular, morphological, biological, and ecological features of plant and insect pathogens. Expected products of this research include new species descriptions and phylogenetic systems that link evolutionary relationships with key pathogen traits such as adaptation, migration, host range, transmission, and pathogenicity. Resources such as pathogen genome sequences, DNA barcodes, molecular markers, voucher specimens, curated culture resources, high-resolution images and illustrations, diagnostic keys, and other diagnostic materials will provide standardized references to facilitate early and accurate pathogen identification and provide the infrastructure needed for the development of pathogen diagnostic tools. The research completed through this project plan will result in enhanced plant disease management, help reduce the time that plants and plant products spend in quarantine, and support more effective use of biocontrol species.