Lindsey J. du Toit grew up in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, where she completed her undergraduate education at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg (UNP), in 1991 with a major in plant pathology. While at the UNP, Mike Wallis, Fritz Rijkenberg, and Mark Laing had influenced her decision to pursue her education further in plant pathology. du Toit earned her M.S. degree in 1995 and her Ph.D. degree in 1998 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), majoring in plant pathology. During her stay in Illinois, du Toit interned at the Plant Clinic of UIUC for five growing seasons. du Toit’s first position out of graduate school was as the plant diagnostician for the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Lab at the Puyallup Research & Extension Center of Washington State University (WSU), from 1998 to 2000. In 2000, du Toit was hired as an assistant professor and vegetable seed pathologist for WSU, based at the WSU Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research & Extension Center. In 2006, she was promoted to associate professor and extension specialist E3. In 2013, she was promoted to professor, scientist, and extension specialist E4 in the WSU Department of Plant Pathology.du Toit has developed a diverse and highly productive research and extension program on the biology, epidemiology, and management of an array of fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases of small-seeded vegetable seed crops grown in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. These vegetable seed crops provide 20–100% of the U.S. supply and 10 -50% of the world supply of seed for about 30 different small-seeded vegetables, with the seed sold nationally and to more than 90 countries. The international nature of the global seed industry necessitates the production of high-quality, pathogen-free seed, which has been the focus of her research and extension program at WSU. du Toit has established herself as one of the leading vegetable seed pathologists, nationally and internationally, with a record of helping stakeholders and working cooperatively with industry partners to address disease problems of a multitude of seed crops. As a result of her work, growers of vegetable and vegetable seed crops are better able to manage plant diseases, and her on-going studies hold promise for further solutions to vegetable seed producers throughout the world. Her experience in plant disease diagnosis, understanding of agronomic aspects of vegetable seed crop production, numerous collaborations, and excellent rapport with growers represent a classic extension approach. This has made du Toit a highly respected research and extension plant pathologist. Evidence for this comes from the high demand for du Toit to give invited and other types of presentations.
Some examples of the diversity and breath of du Toit’s work include basic and applied aspects of diseases of spinach seed crops, including leaf spots caused by Stemphylium botryosum and Cladosporium variabile, vascular wilts caused by Fusarium and Verticillium species, and Cucumber mosaic virus. A particularly notable contribution has been her work on the prevalence of Verticillium in commercial seed lots, the systemic nature of infection, and the high rate of seed transmission from infected seed. Her work on seed-transmitted Xanthomonas hortorum pv. carotae in carrot has been very important, including the development of new and sensitive detection methods that address PCR inhibitors in seed extracts and the issue of differentiating DNA from live versus dead bacterial cells. She also was part of a team that first identified Iris yellow spot virus in onion crops in Washington and South Africa and has assessed responses of onion cultivars to infection by this thrips-vectored virus.
During her career, du Toit’s research achievements have been documented in 47 peer-reviewed research articles, seven book chapters, and numerous other nonrefereed and popular articles. She is very active in extension activities and meets regularly with regional grower organizations and with representatives of seed companies and plant protection companies. du Toit has received numerous awards recognizing the excellence and importance of her research. During her Ph.D. studies, du Toit was the original recipient of the I. E. Melhus Graduate Student Travel Award. She received the Alfred Christianson Endowed Professorship (2001–2014), Robert MacDonald Vegetable Seed Memorial Fund (2003–2005 and 2008–2011), APS Pacific Division Early Career Award (2006), and the WSU Kenneth J. Morrison Extension Award (2009) for outstanding contributions to the improvement of Washington State’s crop production. With Debra Inglis and Carol Miles, du Toit coleads a multidisciplinary, 25-member, tristate Pacific Northwest Vegetable Extension Group, which received the Interdisciplinary Team Excellence Award in 2012 from the WSU College of Agriculture, Human, & Natural Resource Sciences.
Teaching and mentoring is also an important component of du Toit’s activities. In 2012, she took responsibility for teaching a graduate course at WSU in field plant pathology. She has served as chair of committees for two M.S. and three Ph.D. students, served on numerous graduate student committees, and mentored eight undergraduate interns. She has served as an adjunct faculty in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Arkansas; an associate professor extraordinary in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa; and on the Special Graduate Faculty for the Department of Plant Agriculture at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Lindsey du Toit also has been active in service. She served as associate editor (2000–2002) and senior editor (2010–2012 and 2013–2015) for Plant Disease, section editor for Fungicide & Nematicide Tests/Plant Disease Management Reports (2007–2009), associate editor for Phytopathology (2009–2011), and associate editor for Agronomy Journal (2009–2011). She served as chair of the APS Diagnostics Committee (2002–2003) and Seed Pathology Committee (2007–2009), and on the APS-International Seed Federation ad hoc Committee on Codification of Pathogen Races/Strains Based on Host Differentials (2007–2012). In 2012, du Toit was selected as an APS Council Fellow to participate in the APS Leadership Institute at the national meeting. du Toit also served as chair of the organizing committees for the 2006 International Spinach Conference and the 2010 International Carrot Conference and has helped organize various other regional, national, and international conferences.