Research Spotlight

Entomopathogenic fungi may be the key to biocontrol for emerald ash borer

February 19, 2024

Blanchette Lab research is finding important ties between entomopathogenic fungi and Emerald Ash Borer, which threatens many of Minnesota's trees. 

Protecting Minnesota’s cultivated wild rice

University of Minnesota Researcher Claudia Castell-Miller shares knowledge and experiences from her collaborative research into wild rice pathogens, genetics, and disease management practices.

Olivera, Greatens research shared in the Star Tribune

June 28, 2023

This story features research on crown rust as control for invasive buckthorn.

Finding Genetic Solutions to Soybean White Mold Disease

Faculty member Dr. Ashish Ranjan and his lab are determined to grow healthy soybean crops with natural resistance to white mold fungus, allowing farmers to use fewer chemical treatments in their fields.

Spotting Tar Spot of Corn with New Diagnostic and Methods Guide

The disease known as tar spot is spreading in Minnesota’s corn fields, and now it should be easier for growers and researchers to identify thanks to this new publication from Plant Path team members.

Stopping Grapevine Trunk Diseases in their Tracks: Study on Minnesota’s vineyards published by DeKrey and colleagues

June 3, 2022

Congratulations to Davy DeKrey, Annie Klodd, Matthew Clark, and Robert Blanchette on publication of the research article “Grapevine trunk diseases of cold-hardy varieties grown in Northern Midwest vineyards coincide with canker fungi and winter injury,” newly released in PLOS ONE.

New research shares oomicide’s valuable role in protecting soybean from Phytophthora

This collaborative applied disease management study analyzed the efficacy of several oomicide seed treatments as part of integrated management aimed at preventing Phytophthora sojae stem and root rot on soybean. 

UMN researchers collaborate to find "blockbuster" stem rust resistance

March 25, 2022

Brian Steffenson and Pablo Olivera of UMN, along with researchers from the John Innes Centre and the Sainsbury Laboratory, have found remarkable disease resistance in an obscure wild grass that can be crossbred into wheat to give immunity from stem rust.

Harnessing Plant Defensins to Combat Alfalfa Crown Rot

While all plants have ways of protecting themselves against disease, former Plant Pathology Ph.D. student Andrew Sathoff is researching ways to enhance alfalfa’s natural defense system to combat a complex disease. Read more >>




Ensuring Soybean Yields by Screening for Resistance to Fusarium Graminearum

Marissa Scherven, a former Plant Pathology undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Jim Kurle’s lab, is looking for resistance to Fusarium graminearum in soybean, in order to prevent disease problems in farmer’s fields before they affect soybean yield. Read more >>



Informing What Is Grown in High Tunnels

Helping growers protect high tunnel tomatoes in Minnesota and the Midwest is the research topic of former Plant Pathology graduate student Lillian Garber. Learn more about how Garber's research protects the highest value crop grown in high tunnels in Minnesota. Read more >>



Using Microbes to Create Healthier Plants

By trying to disentangle the reasons plants in native prairies have been able to evade significant disease in the prairie, are there important lessons that can be applied to agriculture to create healthier, more productive plants? Linda Kinkel and her research team are trying to find ways to harness microbes indigenous to Minnesota's native prairies by using them to create disease suppressive soils. Read more >>


Helping Minnesota Hops Grow

As the microbrewery industry in the state of Minnesota continues to expand each year, brewers are looking to hop producers near home to provide sustainable and high-quality hops. In order to meet this growing demand, Angela Orshinsky, assistant professor in the Department of Plant Pathology, and her research team are working with hop producers throughout the state to provide answers to the many hops management questions that past research has not yet answered for local producers. Read more >>


Evaluating a Reemerging Threat to Corn

First confirmed in Minnesota in 2009, this Goss's wilt is a concern for researchers like former graduate student Blake Webster because of its potential to reduce corn yields by as much as 50 percent. While there are current recommendations for disease control measures, Webster is taking a holistic, three-pronged approach to learn more about this disease and discover additional methods of disease management. Read more >>


Classifying Fungal Diversity

Trying to find a needle in a haystack can seem like an insurmountable task, but imagine attempting to find 100 needles in 100 haystacks. This is a more apt description of the task that faces Josh Kielsmeier-Cook. Josh, a former Ph.D. student in the Department of Plant Pathology advised by Bob Blanchette, is currently studying fungi in Yasuní National Park in Ecuador, where there are not only 100 needles, but 100 unique needles that need to be classified and cataloged. Read more >>