By Alison Robertson, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology
Oomycetes are some of the most devastating plant pathogens. Some of you may have family who settled in the United States as a result of the Irish Potato Famine in which over one million people died, while another one million emigrated. The pathogen that devastated Ireland's potato crop in the mid-1800s is an oomycete called Phytophthora infestans.
Some oomycetes that are likely more familiar to us here in Iowa are Phytophththora sojae and Pythium species. These pathogens are usually associated with seedling blights on corn and soybean, although P. sojae can affect soybeans throughout the growing season. Some of you may have experienced "devastating losses" to these pathogens in your corn or soybean field.
A good understanding of the pathogen that is affecting a crop is key to managing the disease and reducing losses.
As part of a USDA-NIFA funded project, "Integrated Management of Oomycete Diseases of Soybean and Other Crop Plants," extension specialists in the North Central Region have developed an Oomycete Learning Environment that is available at http://passel.unl.edu/communities/oomycete. There are videos, webinars and links to articles of interest, all aimed at increasing your knowledge and understanding of oomycete diseases, particularly of soybean. CEU credits are also available.
Alison Robertson is an associate professor of plant pathology with research and extension responsibilities in field crop diseases. Robertson may be reached at (515) 294-6708 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.