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SARDI Visiting Speaker Seminar: Dr Jean Ristaino

Mar 2, 3:00 pm

Please join us for a SARDI seminar from visiting researcher Dr Jean Ristaino, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Director of Emerging Plant Disease, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology | North Carolina State University.

Worldwide Migrations, Evolutionary Relatedness and resurgence of Phytophthora infestans and other Emerging Plant Diseases

Talk Abstract:

Emerging plant diseases threaten many foods crops including those we eat for breakfast such as coffee, oranges, banana and potatoes.  Plant pathogens cause global losses estimated to be as high as $33 billion per year. The risk of introduction of pathogens into the US with trade requires continued monitoring and improved diagnostic capabilities at our borders.  Phytophthora infestans, the causal agent of potato late blight was responsible for the Irish potato famine and is still a threat to food security globally.

We have developed a disease surveillance and mapping system called USAblight.org to report disease outbreaks in the USA and alert stakeholders. The US populations are dominated by the largely mefenoxan sensitive US-23 clonal lineage.  We identified and tracked the spread of the historic FAM-1 lineage of P. infestans using multilocus genotyping, next generation sequencing, geospatial analytics and data mining methods. The FAM-1 lineage caused both US and European historic outbreaks, shared allelic diversity and grouped with the oldest samples collected in Colombia, and formed a genetic group that was distinct from more recent aggressive lineages.  Novel detection technologies combined with digital agriculture and bioinformatics tools will help mitigate outbreaks, improve deployment of host resistance and inform policy.

Where: Auditorium, Plant Research Centre
When: Monday 2 March, 3:00 pm

Seminars are open to students, researchers and staff from other organisations.

About the speaker:

Professor Jean Ristaino earned her B.S. degree in Biological Sciences and M.S. degree in Plant Pathology from the University of Maryland, and her Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of California-Davis.  Upon graduation she joined the Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University, advancing to full professor in 1998. She was named a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in February of 2012. Much of Dr. Ristaino’s work has been on the Oomycete pathogens in the genus Phytophthora. She works on the population genetics of historical potato famine epidemics and studies the population structure of present day late blight outbreaks.  Dr. Ristaino’s late blight research has been featured on CNN, Discovery Channel, radio (NPR, BBC, Voice of America) and in newspaper and magazine articles. Dr. Ristaino’ research has not only impacted the understanding and direction of plant pathology, but has also influenced how the general public and policy makers view science and scientists.  She serves as a Senior Science advisor and Jefferson Science Fellow at USAID Washington in the Bureau of Food Security.


Mar 2
3:00 pm
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Auditorium, Plant Research Centre
2b Hartley Grove
Urrbrae, South Australia 5064 Australia

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