Research areas: Fungicide Efficacy and Resistance Management, Microbial Ecology and Pathogen Diagnostics, & Fungal Biology and Genetics
Fungicide Efficacy and Resistance Management
My program investigates fungicide efficacy and fungicide resistance for a variety of pathogens that affect Michigan small fruit crops. The primary goal of this part of the program is to investigate in-field and postharvest efficacy of current chemistries, improve fungicide application timing based on already constructed disease models and to assist with the development of new fungicide chemistries. Then, results are reported to multiple sectors of the agricultural community, such as, peer-reviewed publications, PDMRs, directly to fungicide companies, social media and websites. An important aspect to these trials is investigating fungicide resistance in various pathogen populations, either in the field or in postharvest situations. Some of this research has been done for classical chemistries on the most principal pathogens (e.g. QoI resistance in grape powdery mildew, SDHI and QoI resistance in Botrytis cinerea) but for some of the newest chemistries there is little information available.
Microbial Ecology and Pathogen Diagnostics
Pathogen diagnostics are important evaluative tools to assist in understanding ecological niches of both pathogens and beneficial organisms. In my research, I have been able to develop a variety of diagnostic tools through the use of a pathogen isolate collection. In my program we attempt to build an isolate collection to be used for future projects in grapes, blueberries, hops and strawberries. I am particularly interested in a line of research including pathogen groups such as, Botrytis, Colletotrichum and Alternaria because of their vast importance as postharvest pathogens on fruit crops. A collection like this gives the program many opportunities to explore plant health on fruit surfaces using traditional diagnostics, rapid detection tools, or more sophisticated approaches like amplicon or whole-genome based metagenomic techniques. In the long term, the utilization of these diagnostic tools dramatically aids in the understanding of how microbial communities shift in response to various management strategies and better understand how disease complexes function.
Fungal Biology and Genetics
While fungal biology and genetics is more basic than other areas in my program, it could have profound implications for how small fruit pathogens are managed. I am very interested in fungal biology and genetics, in particular, with pathogens the powdery mildew genera. This group is poorly understood due to their obligate nature. Genetic diversity and gene expression in fungi is linked with pathogenicity and virulence, understanding how this genetic diversity occurs will have implications for how they are managed. I believe additional exploration into the genomics and transcriptomics of these pathogens will allow us to understand mating type and important aspects such as the genetic bases for fungicide resistance.