Emerging Plant Disease News

The Consequences of Disease. Listen to a podcast given by Dr. Ristaino on “The Consequences of Plant Diseases and the Irish Famine”. She shares here own experience in plant patholology, her global travels to track outbreaks and talks about efforts to inderstand the history of the famine and why it is relavent to controlling emerging pathogens today .

Plant-Aid: A Data-Driven and Sensor-Integrated Platform for Monitoring Emerging Plant Diseases


The Emerging Plant Disease and Global Food Security faculty cluster has just received a $556,250 grant from the Plant Science Intitiative Game Changing Research (GRIP)  program to develop an innovative platform to monitor crops for signs of early plant disease, empowering farmers to make real-time, data-driven decisions. Cost-effective sensors will be attached to tomato plants, checking for physical, chemical, environmental and biomolecular markers of disease or plant stress. That data — collected wirelessly on smartphones — will then be integrated with a bioinformatics and geospatial database, which alerts growers of new outbreaks and models their spread for a more effective, rapid response. In the future, the technology can also be extended to other crops and potentially used to detect foodborne human, animal or insect pests, as well as other plant pathogens. Lead Investigator: Jean Ristaino, William Neal Reynolds Professor and 
Co-Investigators: Qingshan Wei, Yong Zhu, Anna Whitfield, Dorith Rotenberg, David Rasmussen, Inga Meadows, Kelly Zering, Robert Scheller, Chris Jones

Outbreaks: Tackling Emerging Plant DIseases that Threaten Food Security. January 10, 2020   

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The Emerging Plant Disease and Global Food Security Cluster held a symposium in January 2020 to highlight the research underway by the team.  We work to improve both local and global efforts to manage emerging pests and pathogens that threaten crop production and lead to food insecurity. Many emerging “armed and dangerous” plant diseases and pests threaten US and global agriculture and reported outbreaks have become more severe with trade and changing climate. Now we have an even stronger team of new cluster faculty whose research focuses on both pandemic and emerging pests and pathogens that are responsible for large yield gaps.  See the EBD Program here and powerpoint sof presentations below.

Digital innovation to tackle the global threat of late blight,  Dr. Jean_Ristaino

New approaches for rapid response to plant disease threats, Dr. Anna_Whitfield

Landscape forecasting of plant diseases and their effects, Dr. Rob_Scheller

AgBio sensors: Opportunities and progress, Dr. Qingshan Wei and Yong Zhu

The challenges of cassava viruses in East Africa, Dr. Trino_Ascencio-Ibanez

Economics of plant disease management, Dr. Kelly Zering

Smart surveillance and mitigation for plant diseases that threaten food security, Dr. Karen Garrett, University of Florida

Research Leadership Academy Panel on Interdisciplinary Reseach. The Research Leadership Academy hosts a lunch and learn on February 27 on the “Challenges of Interdisciplinary research”. Watch the video.

Qingshan Wei received a $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development award, also known as the CAREER Award, from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop viral sensors. Congratulations!

Ristaino Wins Fulbright Award. Jean Ristaino’s passion for ensuring food security for a fast-growing world population has taken her around the globe, helping other scientists and students gain skills in identifying and tracking new and re-emerging plant diseases that can decimate crops. Her most recent stop: Italy. Thanks to a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Research Scholar Award, the William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology at NC State will have a chance to both teach and learn as she works with colleagues and students at the University of Catania in Italy.