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Penn State Plant Pathology and Southern University Urban Forestry Collaborate in Agricultural Biosecurity Education

Posted: July 27, 2011

On July 10-12, Dr. Dan Collins and four students from the Department of Urban Forestry at Southern University, Baton Rouge, LA, visited Penn State University to participate in a Short Course on Agricultural Plant Biosecurity developed by the Department of Plant Pathology.

.  Day 1 of the rigorous 2-day course included a half-day of lectures on invasive species and biocontrol strategies by Dr. Don Davis, the role of APHIS in pathogen forensics by Grace O’Keefe, and Agricultural Biosecurity Initiatives by Dr. Gretchen Kuldau.  In addition, each graduate student from Southern University made a brief presentation summarizing his/her research. The afternoon was spent observing and discussing the Penn State combined Dutch Elm Disease and Elm Yellows control program with Dr. Gary Moorman, touring the invasive longhorn beetle biocontainment research laboratories with Erin Scully, an Entomology graduate student working with Dr. Kelli Hoover, and an in-depth view of the Mushroom Research Center and the University Composting Facility to discuss the role of composting in disease control with Dr. John Peccia.  On day 2, the group travelled first to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in Harrisburg, PA, to tour research and diagnostic facilities for plant pathogen detection with Dr. Ruth Welliver and Dr. Seong Kim and the insect ID lab with Dr. Sven Spichiger.  Topics discussed included the eradication efforts for plum pox virus, surveys for Phytophthora and Ralstonia, and introductions of the longhorn beetle and the green ash borer.  The group then travelled to the Penn State Fruit Research and Extension Center for an afternoon tour of tree fruit research programs by Drs. Henry Ngugi and John Halbrendt where they discussed studies of resurging plant diseases and their detection.  The Biosecurity Class then travelled to Frederick, MD, to visit Dr. Doug Luster and colleagues at the USDA-ARS Biocontainment Greenhouse and tour the APHIS Training Facilities, before returning home to Southern University. The course was funded in part by a USDA/NIFA Capacity Building Grant to Enhance Graduate Education and Training in Global Food Security and Agricultural Biosecurity.