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Adib Rowhani

Adib Rowhani, a native of Iran, earned his B.S. degree in plant protection at Pahlavi University in Shiraz, Iran, in 1971 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, in 1977 and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 1980, respectively. From 1980 to 1988, Dr. Rowhani was a postgraduate research plant pathologist in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of California, Davis. In 1988, he was appointed as a plant pathology specialist in the Department of Plant Pathology and was responsible for the clean stock programs at the University of California Foundation Plant Materials Service. He develops assays and procedures for the identification, detection, and characterization of viruses and graft-transmissible agents of perennial crop plants important to California agriculture, including fruit and nut crops, grapevines, and strawberries.

Dr. Rowhani’s principal contributions have been in the development and improvement of detection methods for fruit tree pathogens and in gaining a better understanding of the etiology of these diseases. As a postdoctoral associate at Davis, he and colleagues elucidated the etiology of walnut blackline disease. They demonstrated that the disease was due to Cherry leaf roll virus and was not a genetic disorder. The virus was successfully purified and characterized and its relationship to other strains determined. Later, a rapid and reliable assay was developed.

Dr. Rowhani has made significant contributions to the understanding and detection of viruses causing grape fan leaf. In spite of the great difficulties of working with grape tissues, which contain potent inhibitors to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), he was successful in developing a PCR assay for grape fan leaf. Although the assay was successful as a research tool, he continued with his work to make it a practical tool for processing large numbers of samples by incorporating a direct binding or immunocapture procedure.

Dr. Rowhani has compared serological and biological assays for the detection of grapevine leaf roll-associated viruses. He found a good relationship of ELISA results and indexing, demonstrating the usefulness of ELISA. He has recently developed a sensitive colorimetric-PCR assay for detection of viruses in fruit trees. When combined with immunocapture of virions, the colorimetric procedure made it feasible to process large numbers of samples.

Dr. Rowhani’s goals in developing serological and molecular methodologies have produced rapid assays for a bacterium and several plant viruses and graft-transmitted pathogens. In addition, he has produced antisera to several of the more important viruses occurring in fruit/nut trees and grapevines. Several of the ELISA protocols have been adopted and are now used routinely by personnel of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Nursery Services Branch for the service testing of source trees for ilarviruses and grapevines for Grapevine fan leaf virus used in the California Nursery’s Registration and Certification Program. CDFA annually tests 20,000 collections of trees used for budwood and seeds and 16,000 collections of vines for these viruses. Dr. Rowhani serves as technical advisor and supplies reagents (antisera of Prune dwarf virus, Prunus necrotic ringspot virus, and Grapevine fan leaf virus) to CDFA.