WSU-Mount Vernon NW Research Center

Vegetable Seed Pathology Program

Did you know that farmers in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) region of the USA produce a significant percentage of the USA and world supply of seed for >35 small-seeded vegetable crops? Although these high value seed crops total <15,000 acres annually in Washington, they play a significant role in the global vegetable industry. One acre of hybrid cabbage seed crop produces about 2,000 lb of seed, which will plant about 10,000 acres of cabbage. About 90 countries import vegetable seed from the PNW because so few regions of the world have the specific climatic conditions necessary for production of high quality seed. The competitive nature of the vegetable seed industry necessitates production of high quality seed that is free of pathogens.

cabbage seed
Cabbage seed crop trial in bloom at the
WSU Mount Vernon NWREC.


Carrot umbel severely blighted by Xanthomonas campestris pv. carotae.
Carrot umbel severely blighted by
Xanthomonas campestris pv. carotae.

The Vegetable Seed Pathology program was initiated in August 2000 by Lindsey du Toit at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC (http://mtvernon. wsu.edu/), as part of the WSU Safe Food Initiative (http://ext.wsu.edu/safefood/). The objective of this research and extension program is to contribute towards a sustainable and secure food supply by providing research and extension support on vegetable seed crop diseases – Lindsey’s program serves vegetable seed growers regionally, nationally, and internationally. Her program investigates the biology, epidemiology, and management of an array of fungal, viral, and bacterial diseases that affect small-seeded vegetable seed crops in the Pacific Northwest.

Some of the research projects on which the Vegetable Seed Pathology program has focused include:

 

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pseudothecia
Pseudothecia of Pleospora herborum (teleomorph of
Stemphylium botryosum
) developing on a spinach seed

onion blight
Onion and scape blight in an  onion seed crop,
caused by Botrytis allii and Botrytis aclada.

The Vegetable Seed Pathology program collaborates widely with other researchers, extension specialists, and extension educators. Extension activities are accomplished through workshops, conferences, publications, regional and state advisory committees, and the PNW Vegetable Extension Group ( http://mtvernon.wsu.edu/path_team/vegpath_team.htm).A number of new diseases have been reported in Washington State or other states by the Vegetable Seed Pathology program. For example, Fusarium wilt of radish in Washington, the powdery mildew fungus Leveillula taurica on onion in Washington and on potato in the USA, ( “Leveillula taurica on potatoes”), Xanthomonas campestris pv. coriandri on coriander in the USA, Iris yellow spot virus (IYSV) on onion in Washington, Stemphylium leaf spot of spinach in Washington and Arizona, and infection of onion seed crops and onion seed by Botrytis porri.

Three technicians work in the VSP program: Mike Derie (Scientific Assistant), Louise Brissey (Ag. Research Tech. II), and Barbara Holmes (Ag. Research Tech. I). Mike has >20 years of experience in applied seed pathology. Louise provides support for greenhouse trials and seed assays. Barbara assists with field, lab, and greenhouse projects.
Graduate students are also part of the VSP program: Pablo Hernandez-Perez completed his MS project in the Vegetable Seed Pathology program in spring 2005, with his thesis on seedborne aspects of leaf spot diseases in spinach seed crops. Jaime Cummings completed her MS degree in 2007 investigating the efficacy of seed treatments for damping-off pathogens in organic spinach production. Leigh Ann Harrison started a PhD program with Lindsey in spring 2007, working on management of Fusarium wilt in spinach seed production. Emily Gatch started a PhD project in Lindsey’s program in fall 2008, taking the lead on the project on management of Fusarium wilt in spinach seed crops. Avi Alcala started a PhD project in spring 2009 on management of damping-off in organic vegetable crops.
Martin Chilvers completed a postdoctorate position in the VSP program, investigating development of a molecular seed assay for Botrytis spp. causing neck rot of onion.
Lindsey’s program has also had a graduate intern, Megan Twomey (Western Washington University), and numerous undergraduate interns including Michael Picha (WSU), Blair Baber (Western Washington University), Coen de Jong (Van Hall Institute, Leeuwaarden, the Netherlands), Jules Riske (The Evergreen State College), Alyse Douglas (Western Washington University), Cynthia Hansen (Western Washington University), and Katie Reed (WSU).

veg seed path teamVegetable Seed Pathology Team, July 2009.
FRONT (L-R): Avi Alcala (PhD student), Barbara Holmes (Ag. Research Tech. I), Katie Reed (WSU undergraduate intern),
Amy Christianson (summer assistant).

BACK (L-R): Emily Gatch (PhD student), Mike Derie (Scientific Assistant), Louise Brissey (Ag. Research Tech. II), and
Lindsey du Toit (Assoc. Professor and VSP program director).

 

teamPresentation of research projects at the 2009
WSU Mount Vernon NWREC Field Day
.

L to R: Lindsey du Toit, Emily Gatch and Avi Alcala (PhD students), Katie Reed (undergraduate intern), Amy Christianson, summer assistant, and Louise Brissey (Ag. Research Tech. II).

Mike Derie (Ag. Research Tech. III), 
					  Martin Chilvers (former postdoctorate), and Lindsey du Toit (Associate Scientist and 
					  Extension specialist).
Mike Derie (Ag. Research Tech. III), Martin Chilvers (former postdoctorate), and Lindsey du Toit
(Associate Scientist and Extension specialist).

The Vegetable Seed Pathology program is supported by vegetable seed growers in Washington (the Columbia Basin Vegetable Seed Association and the Puget Sound Seed Growers’ Association), various state and federal grants, the Alfred Christianson Endowed Professorship, the Robert MacDonald Vegetable Seed Memorial Fund, and the vegetable seed industry.

 

For further information on the Vegetable Seed Pathology program,
contact Lindsey du Toit at dutoit@wsu.edu or at 360-848-6140.

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16650 State Route 536, Mount Vernon, WA 98273 | 360-848-6120 | FAX 360-848-6159 | AMS.MountVernon@wsu.edu | KG 7.09