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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

William Turechek

Research Plant Pathologist

William Turechek, Ph.D
Plant Research Pathologist

U. S. Horticultural Research Laboratory
2001 South Rock Road
Fort Pierce, FL 34945
Telephone: (772) 462-5857
Fax: (772) 462-5986


Current Research Projects

1. Mapping and characterization of the spatial and temporal distribution of tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV) in southwestern Florida


2. Studying the epidemiology of insect transmitted viruses in watermelon


3. Developing improved diagnostics and approaches for managing angular leaf spot in California strawberry nursery production 


Angular leaf spot of strawberry is caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas fragariae. The disease is disseminated primarily through systemically infected nursery stock. This creates problems for nurseries wishing to export plants to Europe because of quarantine restrictions. Currently, field inspections for symptoms are used to certifyplants free of X. fragariae, but visual inspection is not useful for detecting plants infected systemically. To detect systemic infections, PCR is the desired tool because of its sensitivity, specificity, and ease of use. In our research, we developed three sets of real-time PCR primers and probes - based on a set of standards PCR primers - and determined optimal reaction conditions for use of these primers (Poster Link #1). Real time detection proved to be both more sensitive and specific than standard PCR. Moreover, the detection of X. fragariae in crown tissue extract was possible with real time PCR but not with standard PCR which is a significant improvement over standard PCR. The information on sensitivity and specificity of the primer sets was used to evaluate the performance of these primers with receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis under different tolerances for the disease (Poster Link #2). The results of this analysis can be used to provide guidance on threshold selection to manage disease below unacceptable levels. We are also working on optimizing a hot water or heat treatment for killing X. fragariae in systemically infected plants (Poster Link #3), as this technique has been proven to be an effective procedure for killing systemic pathogens in other crops. We have worked with a number of heat treatment protocols in small-scale trials and are attempting to adapt this procedure for use in commercial nurseries.

Selected Publications

1. Turechek, W.W., and Madden, L.V. 2001. Effect of Scale on Plant Disease Incidence and Heterogeneity in a Spatial Hierarchy. Ecological Modelling 144:75-93. 

2. Turechek, W.W., and Madden, L.V. 2003. A Generalized Linear Modeling Approach to Characterizing Disease Incidence in a Spatial Hierarchy. Phytopathology 93:458-466.

3. Pethybridge, S.J. and Turechek, W.W. 2003. Analysis of the Association among Three Viruses Infecting Hop (Humulus lupulus) in Australia. Plant Pathology 52:158-167.

4. Turechek, W.W., andMahaffee, W.F. 2004. Spatial Pattern of Hop Powdery Mildew in the Pacific Northwest. Phytopathology 94:1116-1128.

5.Turechek, W.W., and Wilcox, W.F. 2005. Evaluating Predictors of Apple Scab with Receiver Operating Curve Analysis. Phytopathology 95:679-691.

6. Turechek, W.W., Peres, N., and Werner, N. 2006. Pre- and Post-infection Activity of Pyraclostrobin for Control of Anthracnose Fruit Rot of Strawberry Caused by Colletotrichum acutatum. Plant Disease 90:862-868.

7. Gent, D.H., Mahaffee, W.F., and Turechek, W.W. 2006. Spatial heterogeneity of the Incidence of Hop Powdery Mildew in Hop Cones. Plant Disease 90:1433-1440.

8. Gent, D.H., Turechek, W.W., and Mahaffee, W.F. 2007. Sequential Sampling for Estimation and Classification of the Incidence of Hop Powdery Mildew I: Leaf Sampling. Plant Disease 91:1002-1012.

9. Dewdney, M.M., Biggs, A.R., and Turechek, W.W. 2007. A Statistical Comparison of the Reliability of the Blossom Blight Forecasts of MARYBLYT and Cougarblight with Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) Curve Analysis. Phytopathology 97:1164-1176.

10. Turechek, W.W., Heidenreich, M.C., Lakso, A.N., and Pritts, M.P. 2007. Photosynthesis and Estimation of Virtual Lesion Size of Strawberry Leaves Infected with Diplocarpon earliana. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology 29:159-165.       

11. Lewers, K.S., Turechek, W.W., Hokanson, S.C., Maas, J.L., Hancock, J.F., Serce, S., and Smith, B.J. 2007. Evaluation of Native Strawberry Germplasm for Resistance to Anthracnose Crown Rot Caused by Colletotrichum Species. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 132:842-849.

12. Turechek, W.W., Hartung, J.S., and McCallister, J. 2008. Development and Optimization of a Real Time Detection Assay for Xanthomonas fragariae in Strawberry Crown Tissue with Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) Curve Analysis. Phytopathology 98:359-368.

13. Gent, D.H., Turechek, W.W., and Mahaffee, W.F. 2008. Spatial and Temporal Stability of the Parameters of the Binary Power Law. Phytopathology 98:1107-1117. 

14.Biggs, A.R., Turechek, W.W., and Gottwald, T.R. 2008. Analysis of Fire Blight Shoot Infection Epidemics on Apple. Plant Disease 92:1349-1356.

15. Turechek, W.W., and Peres, N.A. 2009. Heat Treatment Effects on Strawberry Plant Survival and Angular Leaf Spot, Caused by Xanthomonas fragariae, in Nursery Production. Plant Disease 93:299-308.

16. Kousik, C.S., Adkins, S., Turechek, W.W., and Roberts, P.D. 2009. Sources of Resistance in U.S. Plant Introductions to Watermelon Vine Decline Caused by Squash Vein Yellowing Virus. HortScience 44:256-262.

17. Adkins, S., Webster, C.G., Baker, C.A., Weaver, R. Rosskopf, E.N., and Turechek, W.W. 2009. Detection of Three Whitefly-transmitted Viruses Infecting the Cucurbit Weed Cucumis melo var. dudaim in Florida. Plant Health Progress doi:10.1094/PHP-2009-1118-01-BR.

18. Biggs, A.R., and Turechek, W.W. 2010. Fire Blight of Apples and Pears: Epidemiological Concepts Comprising the Maryblyt Forecasting Program. Plant Health Progress doi:10.1094/PHP-2010-0315-01-RS.

19. Peres, N.A., Siejo, T.E., and Turechek, W.W. 2010. Pre- and Post-Inoculation Activity of a Protectant and a Systemic Fungicide for Control of Anthracnose Fruit Rot of Strawberry under Different Wetness Durations. Crop Protection 29:1105-1110.

20. Turechek, W.W., Kousik, C.S., and Adkins, S. 2010. Distribution of Four Viruses in Single and Mixed Infections within Infected Watermelon Plants in Florida. Phytopathology 100:1194-1203.

Last Modified: 8/12/2016
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