The successful control of plant pathogens requires an understanding of the ecological principles that govern the interactions of the pathogen with the environment and host.This knowledge is essential in developing disease-forecasting models, cultural approaches to disease control, and the most efficient timing for application of control measures.In addition, the successful use of biological methods for control requires an understanding of how these same principles relate to the interactions of biocontrol agents with the target pathogen and how both organisms interact with the host plant.This understanding will lead to the development of technology for enhancing the populations and efficacy of biocontrol agents on plant surfaces.
Grape Powdery Mildew
The overall research goal of the lab group is to develop integrated pest management systems for horticulture crops that are directed at the reduction of synthetic chemical inputs through disease forecasting or their augmentation or replacement with biologically based control strategies. We are currently investigating the establishment of beneficial microbial communities, application technology for microbial biological control agents, the epidemiology of Botrytis cinerea using green fluorescent marked isolates, and developing and validating disease forecasters and novel methods to assess disease levels and spore movement for several powdery mildews. We are also investigating the basic ecological principles that are involved in the development of pathogenic and beneficial microbial communities and their interaction with a host plant. Of particular interest is the role of biofilm formation on the ability of biological control agents to colonize plant surfaces and reduce disease.