Trent Berrian receives Drs. James A. and Stella Melugin Coakley Endowment Award and Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Graduate Student Grant.

The grants will enable to test the effectiveness of thiamin priming application on potato against bacterial (Streptomyces and Pectobacterium) and fungal (Alternaria solani) pathogens. Potato is the fourth most important staple food crop in the world and accounts for a nearly $2 billion dollar industry in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho alone. To manage diseases, farmers may rely on a combination of control methods such as pesticides application, cultural practices, and planting of disease-free certified seeds and, when available, resistant cultivars. However, for some pathogens, these control methods are either unavailable, inadequate, or unsustainable. Therefore, new control methods are needed. Thiamin, also known as vitamin B1, a compound naturally produced by plants, can prime plants when externally applied to foliage, enabling plants to respond more rapidly and/or more robustly to pathogens and thus annihilating or limiting disease. However, besides one study on potato virus Y, the priming effect of thiamin has never been tested in potato. If successful, the adoption of this practice will provide a safe alternative tool for plant protection against pathogens.