Current research efforts are focused on enhancing our understanding of hop powdery mildew (Podosphaera macularis) ecology, population biology, and epidemiology with a specific focus on Pacific Northwest races of the fungus. Efforts are focused on development of molecular diagnostics to detect the pathogen in air samples and also differentiate races of the fungus to understand disease hazard and inform grower management actions when it is appropriate to apply preventative sprays. I aim to improve the hop powdery mildew risk index by adapting the index to estimate disease hazard on the cultivar Cascade, which has only recently become susceptible to the disease and displays an apparent high-temperature induced resistance. The modified risk index will be linked to weather forecasts to make it truly predictive and delivered in a mobile app. I am also characterizing novel disease resistance in a biparental mapping population to understand and ultimately develop molecular markers associated with hop powdery and downy mildew (Pseudoperonospora humuli) resistance. To address grower concerns, I am also characterizing both new and emerging diseases of hop including a cone disease putatively caused by Alternaria spp. and a potential pathogen complex resulting in a bacterial stem canker.
PI: David Gent