Nematode identification

Combining classical taxonomy with modern molecular techniques is crucial for an accurate identification of PPNs. Besides nematode identification, this lab will initiate projects to catalogue the distribution of PPNs with potential economic impact to agriculture in Pennsylvania. This lab will be involved in conducting statewide surveys to build an integrated and comprehensive knowledge database to: (a) develop priority research topics to solve nematode sanitary problems of the growers in an agile (short time) way and (b) provide accurate diagnostic service for extension services, regulatory agencies, and grower communities.

Beech Leaf Disease (BLD)

The second goal of this lab is to investigate and try to find answers to the many questions that arise in relation to this newly emerging disease that affects beech trees, called Beech Leaf Disease (BLD). The lab thus focuses on identification of potential vectors that may be involved in the transmission of Litylenchus crenatae mccannii (LCM) nematodes, the causative agent of beech BLD. The lab will develop new protocols for rapid detection of LCM from fresh leaf and insect/putative vector tissue. Since most recent studies suggest that LCM may not be fully responsible for BLD and that other microbes (fungi, bacteria) may be contributing to the syndrome, our lab will conduct BLD microbiome studies to better understand the relationship between different organisms.

Novel biocontrol agents against PPNs

A third research goal of the lab is to focus on developing eco‑friendly biologicals as safe substitutional materials and soil amendments. To achieve this goal, we will test the effectiveness of different cover crops, soil amendments and novel natural extracts against different economically important PPNs to Pennsylvania growers.