Findings will be developed into online tools for farmers to prevent, detect and treat pathogens early

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced that Oregon State University will receive more than $642,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build out a tool that diagnoses invasive diseases in native plants.

“Oregon is a leader in growing food and foliage that power and enrich our lives—from fruit, berries and hazelnuts to wheat, plant starts and grass seed,” Wyden said. “Countless Oregon-grown products are shipped all around the globe, and I am gratified to see federal funds go toward preventing and treating harmful plant diseases so Oregon’s world-class farmers can continue to support jobs and our state’s economic growth, benefiting Oregon families for many generations.”

“Oregon’s thriving agriculture is under threat from pests and plant disease,” Merkley said. “This funding will help to keep Oregon’s world-renowned agricultural products healthy, which will not only benefit Oregon’s economy, but allow people in Oregon and elsewhere to continue to enjoy our state’s great products.”  

Plant diseases pose significant threats to agriculture. Monitoring is a crucial step in disease prevention and requires affordable, sensitive, and specific diagnostic tests, especially to detect novel variants or strains. OSU will develop a low-cost CRISPR-based  diagnostic tool capable of being used in the field to diagnose plant pathogens. OSU plans to use the $642,301 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to expand the CRISPR-based tools as well as develop web-based resources and protocols to prevent and address pests and plant diseases for widespread use.

“USDA-NIFA support for this work is critical for developing next generation diagnostic tools for managing diseases that are harming Oregon’s forests and nursery industry,” lead OSU faculty Dr. Shawn Donkin said.