2017 Faculty Update: Dean Malvick
The Field Crops Pathology research and extension group led by Dean Malvick, with assistance from collaborators near and far, has continued its work to understand and reduce the destructive effects of important soybean and corn diseases. The variety, adaptability, and distribution of key diseases that appear every year across Minnesota never cease to surprise and challenge us. Most of our work in the laboratory, field, and greenhouse recently has focused on soybean diseases, but corn diseases also require our attention. Crystal Floyd (Research Fellow) has continued her superb and critical work on many soybean and corn disease projects. She keeps the laboratory, greenhouse, and field work running as smoothly as possible. Crystal is assisted by many student workers who contribute their energy and skills while they learn about plant pathology. The tenacious and tireless research by Michelle Grabowski (Ph.D. candidate and Extension Professor) on white mold of annual ornamentals has also brought variety and interest to the lab.
Soybean has the unfortunate characteristic of being host to a wide array of important diseases. Our effort has focused on sudden death syndrome (SDS), Rhizoctonia root and stem rot, brown stem rot, and white mold. Smaller efforts have focused on Phytophthora root and stem rot, Pythium seedling and root rot, and others. Several projects are nearly completed, and new projects were initiated this year. The work on SDS will expand in the coming year thanks to a new project funded through the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plants and Pests Center (MITPCC). The goals of the project are to understand the biotic and abiotic factors contributing to the spread and invasiveness of a SDS fungal pathogen. This project, with collaborator Dr. Kathryn Bushley, will include bringing in a new graduate student and postdoctoral research scientist.
Our efforts on corn diseases have continued to focus on Goss’s wilt of corn and northern corn leaf blight, and a few others that get our attention. The collaborative research on Goss’s wilt with Dr. Carol Ishimaru has been fascinating and productive. Blake Webster defended his M.S, thesis entitled “Factors contributing to the reemergence of Goss’s wilt and blight of corn in the Upper Midwestern U.S.” late last summer, and he has continued working with us on several projects. Ryan McNally (Postdoctoral Associate) and Rebecca Curland (Research Fellow), who have been key players in our work on Goss’s wilt, are moving to new positions in Colorado (Ryan) and at the University of Minnesota (Rebecca).
In addition to research, much effort is directed at extension education focused on field crop diseases. Dean Malvick is a key provider of educational programs and information for crop producers, extension educators, crop consultants, company agronomists, and others regarding the characteristics of crop diseases in as well as strategies for their management, His extension education program includes development and delivery of information and educational programs throughout Minnesota and the region via radio, magazines and newsletters, web sites, one-on-one meetings, field demonstration projects, and technical presentations. In summary, members of the Malvick lab are conducting exciting and rewarding work that yields new information on the biology and management of plant diseases, and delivers relevant information to scientific audiences and to crop producers and agricultural professionals who apply it to improve crop quality and yield.