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Seed Pathology Fundamentals: Regional​ to Global Implications

​Dates & Format

Tuesdays, September 19 – December 5, 2023 | 9:00-10:15 am Central Time

  • 12 live virtual lessons, one each week from top experts in the field of Seed Pathology.
  • Additional materials will be provided for self-study.
  • Discussion forum​ for Q&A, sharing of resources and perspectives among students. 

​Registration is now closed. ​​​

Stay tuned for an on-demand version of this course coming in 2024!

Fill out this form to be notified when registration opens.

Meet the Organizers

​Ric Dunkle
​American Seed Trade Association

Lindsey du Toit
Washington State University
APS & ISPP Seed Pathology Committees

Gerbert Hiddink
Enza Zaden, The Netherlands
APS & ISPP Seed Pathology Committees​

Gary Munkvold
Iowa State University
APS & ISPP Seed Pathology Committees

Course Description

This ​will be the first in a series of seed pathology courses offered through APS to address the global demand for seed pathology education and training. For 12 w​eeks, this online introductory course will provide a high-level perspective on seeds and seed pathology, including knowledge needed to address rapid technological advances, phytosanitary concerns, and the evolution of seed trade policies.

Is this Course Right for Me?

Yes! This course is designed for anyone in any related field and at any stage of their career who is looking for an introduction to seed pathology. 

We will explore how seed pathology has local, regional, and global implications for

  • NPPOs and other regulatory agencies
  • State Departments: Agriculture, USDA, and other federal agencies
  • Academics & Researchers
  • Industry
  • Seed testing companies

Course Requirements and Details:

  • ​All participants will have access to the course discussion forum, where instructors will answer questions, and participants can share resources and discuss course topics between sessions. ​​

  • Participants who attend at least ten of the twelve live sessions will receive a completion certificate.
    • Participants will have access to recorded sessions. 

Course Schedule, Presenters, and Learning Objectives

View Complete ​Course Schedule and Details
DateTopic & Instructors
Learning Objectives
Week 1

September 19, 2023

Importance of seed movement for global food security and health

  • Ric Dunkle, American Seed Trade Association
  • Gary Munkvold, Iowa State University
  • Lindsey du Toit, Washington State University​
  • Understand why seed is moved around the world.
  • Be aware of biological, environmental, and phytosanitary regulatory constraints that affect where quality seed is/can be grown and moved.
  • Understand the diversity of seed production and harvest/post-harvest operations.
  • Understand the scope of the course.
Week 2

September 26, 2023

Mechanisms of seed infection or contamination

  • ​​Gary Munkvold, Iowa State University​​
  • Be able to describe the primary mechanisms by which viruses, viroids, bacteria, fungi, and nematodes become associated with seeds.
  • Understand that the risk of seed transmission depends on the type of seed infection/contamination, the pathogen, the amount of the pathogen present, host resistance, timing of infection, etc.
Week 3

October 3, 2023

Disease management in seed production fields

  • Chet Kurowski
  • Ric Dunkle, American Seed Trade ​Association​
  • Understand general principles of disease management in seed crops, including determining seed production locations, crop rotations, field mapping, field preparation, monitoring/field inspection, diagnostics, pest and disease management, and effective record keeping for subsequent seed crop placement.
  • Understand the importance of managing weeds and volunteers from previous crops, which can serve as reservoirs for pests and diseases of concern.
  • Have a basic understanding of how risk analysis can be used to identify pathways for pathogen introduction, and to assess the efficacy of mitigation efforts.
  • Understand how systems approaches, such as the ReFreSH concept, can mitigate phytosanitary regulatory concerns.
Week 4

October 10, 2023

Disease Management in greenhouse seed production

  • Antoin​e Artz, BASF​
  • Be aware of risks associated with diseases in seed crops grown in protected structures (greenhouses, high tunnels, …)
  • Understand the consequences of disease management practices for controlling seed-borne pests in seed crops produced in protected structures.
  • Be familiar with GSPP (Good Seed & Plant Production) principles.
Week 5

October 17, 2023

Seed health testing principles

  • Charlie Block, Iowa State University​
  • Be able to describe the main categories of seed health testing methods used for different plant pathogenic organisms.
  • Be able to describe the main criteria that define accurate seed health testing methods, including validation of methods.
  • Understand the advantages and limitations of different types of testing methods and interpretation of seed health assay results in terms of disease risk.
Week 6

October 24, 2023

Microbiological seed health tests

  • Harrie Koenraadt, Naktuinbouw​
  • Be able to describe how blotter, agar plate, grow-out, bioassay, and other seed testing methods are performed.
  • Understand the main factors that affect the sensitivity and specificity of these seed testing methods.
  • Understand the advantages and limitations of these seed testing methods, including interpreting results in terms of biological relevance.
Week 7

October 31, 2023

Nucleic acid & antigen-based seed health tests

  • Harrie Koenraadt, Naktuinbouw​
  • Be able to describe how ELISA and PCR-based methods are performed.
  • Understand the main factors that affect the sensitivity and specificity of these seed testing methods.
  • Understand the advantages and limitations of these methods.
  • Be aware of advanced molecular testing methods, including high throughput sequencing, and interpreting results in terms of biological relevance.
Week 8

November 7, 2023

Seed conditioning & processing

  • Tom Day, Sakata
  • Gary Munkvold, Iowa State University​
  • Be familiar with vegetable vs. row crop seed conditioning and processing, and how these processes impact seedborne pathogens.
  • Understand what constitutes seed conditioning, and how and to what extent conditioning can eliminate some pathogens, weed seeds, and debris based on seed size, shape, density, and color.
  • Recognize the significance of seed moisture content in relation to seedborne pathogens.
  • Understand the risks of plant pathogen contamination during seed handling and processing, particularly the biological relevance to plant pathogen dissemination and seed transmission.
Week 9

November 14, 2023

Seed treatment

  • Tom Day, Sakata​
  • Gary Munkvold, Iowa State University​
  • Understand the range of objectives for different types of seed treatments.
  • ​Be able to describe the main categories of treatments effective against seedborne pathogens, and the benefits and limitations of each.
  • Be able to describe examples of seed disinfection. treatments that have historically benefited agriculture.
  • Understand the biological factors affecting the efficacy of disinfection treatments.

Week 10
November 21, 2023
Seed as a pathway

  • Sam Thomas, Bayer
  • Ruud Scheffer, Consultant​
  • Understand how seeds can serve as a pathway for introducing pests into new environments.
  • Recognize the difference between seed-borne vs. seed-transmitted pathogens and the complexity of determining how the detection of a target pathogen on seed relates to the risk of pathogen introduction and disease initiation.
  • Understand how seed is assessed and documented as a pathway for plant pathogens, and challenges with interpreting seed health test results.
  • Understand the differences and similarities in risk perception between the seed industry and regulatory/National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) agencies.
Week 11

November 28, 2023

International phytosanitary regulations

  • Greg Lamka, Iowa State University
  • Ric Dunkle, American Seed Trade Association​
  • Understand the international phytosanitary framework, including differences between international phytosanitary standards and national (NPPO) regulations.
  • Be familiar with fundamental principles of sovereignty, least restrictive action, harmonization of phytosanitary measures, risk, and science-based decision-making, and when phytosanitary requirements become technical trade barriers.
  • Recognize how international phytosanitary standards are developed, and how NPPOs use phytosanitary standards from the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) to develop national regulations.
  • Be familiar with the role of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in issuing notifications and final decisions, and the roles of industry and academia in these processes.
  • Understand new options for phytosanitary certification on the horizon, including the systems approach (such as the ReFreSH concept) and certification of seed lots based on holistic pest risk management vs. traditional consignment-by-consignment certification.
  • Recognize the potential impacts of non-science-based regulations on global seed movement and impacts on food and feed production.
Week 12

December 5, 2023

Wrap-up & Discussion

  • Gary Munkvold, Iowa State University
  • Lindsey du Toit, Washington State University
  • Gerbert Hiddink, Enza Zaden
  • Ric Dunkle, American Seed Trade Association​
  • Be familiar with the roles of the International Seed Foundation (ISF), International Seed Trade Association (ISTA), American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), and regulatory agencies [e.g., IPPC, US National Seed Health System (NSHS), Naktuinbouw (NAKT)] in the development, validation, and approval of seed health testing methods, and development of seed pest databases.
  • Understand the role of pest risk assessment in regulatory decision making.
  • Be able to link together the 11 aspects of seed pathology covered in this course.
  • Understand the importance of seed in the epidemiology of pathogen introduction and establishment, including in relation to other pathways of pathogen movement.
  • Recognize that a limited number of pathogens with specific characteristics can incite plant diseases from seed-borne inoculum, under specific conditions.
  • Provide feedback to course instructors on the value of the course.
  • Provide suggestions for additional courses/topics in seed pathology.


Registration + Membership
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Developing Economy (member or nonmember) *

​*Attendees registering with Developing Economy registration must reside or be working in one of the Developing Economy eligible countr​ies.  Please review the list to determine if you are eligible.

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​Learn more about opportunities ​below and please reach out to Brianna Plank to reserve your sponsorship today!​

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