James E. Adaskaveg was born in Waterbury, CT, in 1960. He received his B.S. degree in agronomy in 1982 at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology in 1984 and 1986, respectively, at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He was a post-doctorate researcher and research plant pathologist at the University of California, Davis, from 1986 to 1990 and 1990 to 1995, respectively. In 1995, Adaskaveg joined the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, University of California, Riverside, where he is a professor of plant pathology. He is recognized nationally and internationally as an authority of pre- and postharvest diseases and for his outstanding contributions on the biology, epidemiology, and management of tree fruit and nut pathogens. He has been invited to numerous national and international meetings and workshops. He was the recipient of Appreciation Awards from the California almond (1997), cherry (2003), and citrus (Albert G. Salter Memorial, 2006) industries, as well as from Argentinian citrus (2010) and Chilean fruit (2013) industries. In 2008, he received the APS Lee M. Hutchins Award. Adaskaveg has been a scientific advisor for USDA-APHIS since 2004 and is involved in international trade negotiations on diseases of citrus, pomegranate, pome fruit, stone fruit, and strawberry. His research has impacted agriculture all over the world. His research on Septoria spot has allowed the Korean market to remain open for the last 10 years (a $100 million market/year) to the California orange industry (a market valued at ca. $100 million/year), his research on disease control has been utilized in Chile and Argentina, and his research on postharvest fungicides has led to all of the new postharvest fungicide registrations for citrus, pome fruit, and stone fruit crops worldwide.
Adaskaveg is an outstanding scientist and his program effectively combines applied and basic research on pre- and postharvest aspects of production agriculture of a multitude of tree crops in California. He described how stem infections by Tranzschelia, which provide primary inoculum of peach rust, are delimited by a wound periderm and eventually are walled off; thus, requiring re-infection every season. Disease progression analyses provided information for predicting this economically important disease. Monitoring for stem lesions in the spring for predicting the disease potential is now done routinely. Adaskaveg demonstrated for the first time visible quiescent infections of brown rot and gray mold in sweet cherry fruit and he was one of the first to develop specific PCR primers for Monilinia species. He has made seminal contributions on the understanding of anthracnose of almond and other crops. He identified the causal pathogen of almond anthracnose, described its population structure and disease epidemiology, and designed management strategies. Novel microscopy methods and histology provided direct evidence that internal light spots of fungal appressoria correspond to developing penetration pegs. This led to characterization of this host-pathogen system as subcuticular-intracellular hemibiotrophy and intercellular necrotrophy. Adaskaveg has pioneered the visualization of pH modulation in this host-pathogen interaction by using pH-sensitive probes and fluorescence confocal microscopy. He and his colleagues characterized the production of ammonia by the pathogen and the pH modulation within host tissue that leads to fungal colonization.
For sour rot of stone and citrus fruits, Adaskaveg characterized the pathogens’ population structure using molecular markers and indirectly demonstrated a mixed reproduction system with sexual mating and a high-capacity asexual reproductive phase. These processes may contribute to pesticide resistance or the development of new pathogenicity types. Adaskaveg also found that a mandarin rind disorder, which resulted in serious crop losses in California and was attributed by others to fungal pathogens, is actually caused by precipitation and temperature fluctuations during fruit color break. He developed a management strategy where water repellants are applied prior to fall rains at fruit color break, and this strategy is now used successfully worldwide.
Throughout his career, Adaskaveg has been pivotal in the development of many new pre- and postharvest fungicides for numerous crops in collaboration with regulatory agencies, the IR-4 program, the chemical industries, and the agricultural community. The availability of several effective postharvest treatments allow for longer storage and for long-distance marketing of high-quality produce. From his original studies on stone fruit, pome fruit, citrus, and pomegranate, fludioxonil has become the most widely used postharvest fungicide for fruit crops in the history of agriculture. The recent expansion of the pomegranate industry is due to the control of gray mold with postharvest fungicide treatments that he developed. Adaskaveg’s program also includes bacterial diseases. He has been very influential in the first registration of an agricultural antibiotic, kasugamycin, in more than 50 years. Over the years, Adaskaveg’s research program was instrumental to the fruit and nut industries in obtaining numerous emergency registrations of fungicides and bactericides where no effective treatments were available.
Adaskaveg pioneered new methods, such as the spiral gradient dilution technique to determine sensitivities of fungal pathogens against fungicides, to estimate the risk of resistance development in several postharvest citrus and pome fruit pathogens and to monitor pathogen populations for shifts in sensitivity. The method was published in Phytopathology and it is the most cited publication of the journal with ca. 6,000 downloads in the last 20 years. He also characterized modes of action of several fungicides in different FRAC Groups and he has supported the rotational use of fungicide premixtures to prevent resistance in both pre- and postharvest pathogen populations.
Adaskaveg is an effective and dedicated instructor to his undergraduate and graduate students. He teaches mycology, epidemiology, postharvest disease management, and disease diagnosis. His service to APS is also notable. He was an associate editor of Phytopathology from 2005 to 2007. He was APS Pacific Division president (2002–2003), councilor (2009–2010), the first Divisional Forum representative (2010–2012, chair in 2012); he organized three field trips on tree fruit diseases during the 2003, 2005, and 2007 APS meetings; and he served on the APS Financial Advisory Committee from 2011 to 2013. He also serves on the mycology, chemical control, pathogen resistance, and postharvest pathology committees. In summary, James Adaskaveg’s contributions to agricultural research and APS are extraordinary and he well represents the discipline of plant pathology.
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