The new test now available to farmers from the Cornell University Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic/CU-PDDC to detect the soil-borne plant pathogen Phoma sclerotioides, commonly known as brown root rot/BRR, has northern New York roots.
BRR was first detected in the eastern United States in Clinton County in northern NY in 2004. The pathogen causes root and crown rotting in alfalfa, other perennial legumes, and overwintering grasses, causing yield loss and stand decline of alfalfa.
Dr. Michael Wunsch of North Dakota State University developed the improved molecular test for BRR in collaboration with the Bergstrom Lab and CU-PDDC at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. With funding from the farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program/NNYADP, Wunsch conducted his graduate study research of brown root rot on northern New York farms under the tutelage of Cornell plant pathologist Dr. Gary C. Bergstrom.
‘This new test indicates a positive result if plant tissues are infected with any of the seven varieties/biotypes of the fungus found in North America, including the five biotypes documented in New York,’ says Bergstrom.