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​​​​2024 Fellow: Gloria Abad​

Gloria Abad was born in Peru and earned an agronomist engineer degree from the National Central University in Peru (1972) and an M.S. degree in plant pathology from the National Agrarian University La Molina (NAULM) in Peru (1984), with a thesis on “Phytophthora infestans in the Andes of Peru." She then worked as a mycologist at the International Potato Center (CIP-Peru) and NAULM. She earned her Ph.D. degree in plant pathology from North Carolina State University (NCSU) (1993). In her dissertation with David Shew and Leon Lucas, she identified 33 Pythium species associated with root and crown rot of turfgrasses and described Pythium plurisporium sp. nov. She was director of the Plant Pathogen Identification Laboratory (NCSU-PPIL) from late 1999 to 2006. She next joined the USDA-APHIS-PPQ-S&T-Plant Pathogen Confirmatory Diagnostics Laboratory in Maryland as lead scientist-molecular biologist and joined the Department of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology at Penn State University as an adjunct professor in 2010. Her role in the PPQ lab is to implement and validate molecular diagnostic tools for the robust detection and identification of pathogens of concern, with emphasis on Oomycetes.

Dr. Abad is a global expert in Phytophthora and has significantly strengthened oomycete taxonomy. She was a pioneer in promoting the use of the ex-types and introduced innovative research for identification and diagnostics. With international collaborators, she described P. bishii, P. kelmanii, P. gloveri, P. morindae, P. niederhauserii, and P. personensis; redescribed P. cajani, P. honggalleglyana (synonym: P. hydropathica), P. megakarya, P. pisi, and P. pseudopolonica; and presented new combinations for P. × multiformis and P. uniformis. In addition, she collaborated on the description of the genus Phytopythium (Abad et al.).

Dr. Abad also has worked on the development, evaluation, and validation of molecular tools for the robust specific detection of Oomycetes of concern for the United States, including P. austrocedri, P. kernoviae, P. tentaculata, P. quercina, P. ramorum, P. × alni, and P. × multiformis, and “Graminicolous downy mildews" in the Peronosclerospora and Sclerophthora genera. She was one of the two members from the USDA representing the United States for the “QUADS Managing Regulatory Issues Arising from New Diagnostic Technology Including HTS," with colleagues from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, and one of the subject matter experts for the International Plant Protection Convention working to develop standards for the detection of P. ramorum with colleagues from the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

Recently, Dr. Abad developed a set of tools for Phytophthora identification that integrates traditional morphological identification with molecular identification methods. This work is available at the IDphy: Molecular and Morphological Identification of Phytophthora Based on the Types, which is the first online resource for plant pathogens that combines morphology (both lucid and tabular keys), a molecular toolbox, genomic data, fact sheets for 212 species, and associated protocols. The molecular toolbox of the ex-types of Phytophthora spp. contains more than 1,000 sequences posted at the NCBI by Dr. Abad and collaborators. In addition, Dr. Abad and collaborators have also implemented the IDphy: Phytophthora Identification Based on the Types (version 1) mobile application software for iPhone and iPad. The aspects of these resources are described in the publication “IDphy: An International Online Resource for Molecular and Morphological Identification of Phytophthora" (Plant Disease, 2023, 107:987-998). The culmination of this exceptional work of about 10 years was the publication of “Phytophthora: Taxonomic and Phylogenetic Revision of the Genus" (Studies in Mycology, 2023, 106:259-349). Dr. Abad led this collaboration team of 15 researchers from Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States. This manuscript, in association with the “IDphy Online Resource…," is also a monographic study and the most updated revision of the taxonomy and phylogeny of Phytophthora. This remarkable achievement is emblematic of her career in that it consolidates information from multiple traditional and modern methods into a tool that can be used by researchers worldwide. It also is emblematic of her work, in that this effort was highly collaborative and international.

Dr. Abad has been promoting the use of ex-types in taxonomy, starting in 1999 with a presentation at the International Plant Protection Congress in Jerusalem. She also presented at the IUFRO Phytophthora in Forestry and Natural Ecosystems meetings in New Zealand (2010), Spain (2012), Argentina (2014), and Italy (2019). Dr. Abad has organized many international symposia and workshops to share her expertise and to develop international collaborations. She has organized six International Workshops on Oomycetes (IOW) that brought together ~40 speakers to exchange knowledge and educate others on the latest in Oomycetes research. More than 700 scientists from about 50 countries have participated in IOW over the years. These workshops were held at NCSU – USA (2004, 2006), the International Congress of Plant Pathology organized by the International Society of Plant Pathology (ICPP-ISPP) – Turin, Italy (2010), the University of Maryland – USA (2012), the ICPP-ISPP in Boston – USA (2018), and the IOW joined with the Oomycetes Molecular Genomics Network in collaboration with three researchers from the University of Toulouse – France (ICPP-ISPP 2023). She also has organized innovative international web symposiums, including the “Oomycetes of Regulatory Concern in International Trade" at IOW, “Taxonomy and Evolution of the Oomycetes" at the Latin America Phytopathological Society/Peruvian Phytopathological Society (Peru 2013), and at the Mexican Society of Phytopathology (SMF)/ALF/APS Caribbean Division (Mexico 2015). Dr. Abad also has contributed to APS as an organizer of four symposia. In addition, she has been speaker/instructor in other workshops on Oomycetes presented in the United States, Ireland (1995), Spain (1997), Mexico (2002, 2020), Peru (1995, 2004), Argentina (2005, 2006, 2021), and India (2022).

Dr. Abad has made outstanding contributions in Oomycetes taxonomy that support the work of many other scientists. Her ability to foster collaborations, her mentoring of numerous plant pathologists, her international contributions, and her pioneering work using the specimens of the ex-types for correct identification of species of Phytophthora and other Oomycetes make her an asset to the discipline of plant pathology. For her many contributions, Dr. Abad is deserving of the honor of being named an APS Fellow.​