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Chang-Lin Xiao

Chang-Lin Xiao was born on August 27, 1964, in Wuhan, China. He completed his B.S. degree in plant protection at Huazhong Agricultural University, China, in 1985, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in plant pathology at China Agricultural University (formerly Beijing Agricultural University), China, in 1988 and 1991, respectively. He then worked as assistant professor at Beijing Agricultural University from 1991 to 1994; visiting post-doctoral scholar with the University of California, Davis, at the USDA Research Station in Salinas, CA, from 1994 to 1996; visiting post-doctoral scholar at UC-Davis in Davis, CA, from 1996 to 1998; and as biologist and post-doctoral researcher with the University of Florida at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Dover, FL, from 1998 to 2000. Xiao joined the faculty of the Department of Plant Pathology at Washington State University in 2000, where he is currently associate plant pathologist and extension plant pathologist, located at the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee, WA, with primary responsibility for postharvest pathology. Xiao has an impressive record of accomplishments given the short time since receiving his Ph.D. degree. Xiao was associate editor for Phytopathology from 2002 to 2004 and served on the APS Plant Disease Losses Committee from 1998 to 2000. He is currently a member of the Postharvest Pathology and Pathogen Resistance Committees of APS.

Xiao is recognized for his contributions to our understanding of postharvest diseases of apples and pears and in particular the identification of three newly discovered postharvest pathogens of pome fruits.

Postharvest fruit rot diseases are an important economic constraint in the production and distribution of apples and pears in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. The reduction in quality and volume during storage, as a result of decay, and the associated repackaging of fruit, costs the tree fruit industry millions of dollars annually. These losses have characteristically been attributed to fungal pathogens inciting the storage rots gray mold and blue mold. However, during the past 5 years at WSU, Xiao has discovered three new postharvest diseases in pome fruits in the United States: Phacidiopycnis rot caused by Potebniamyces pyri (anamorph Phacidiopycnis piri), Sphaeropsis rot caused by Sphaeropsis pyriputrescens Xiao & J.D. Rogers, and a fruit rot disease caused by Phacidiopycnis washingtonensis Xiao & J.D. Rogers. The latter two diseases were the first reports in the world and the causal agents have been described as new fungal species. In Washington State, P. piri and S. pyriputrescens were found to be responsible for one-fifth to one-third of the losses resulting from postharvest decay of d’Anjou pears and Red Delicious apples, respectively. These findings represent significant contributions to the knowledge base of postharvest diseases of pome fruits.

Phacidiopycnis rot and Sphaeropsis rot are economically important to the fruit industry in the Pacific Northwest and Xiao has since been conducting research to address the biology, epidemiology,and control of these diseases. One common characteristic of these three pathogens is their association with cankers and twig dieback of trees in the orchard and their ability to cause latent infection of fruit in the orchard leading to fruit rot during storage. Xiao has thus sought to elucidate the relationships between the tree phase of these canker-causing fungi in the orchard and the fruit-rot phase in storage, and to use this knowledge as the basis for developing and implementing pre- and postharvest integrated strategies for disease control. As a result of this work, growers now possess information on appropriate chemistries for suppression of these decay pathogens when employed as a preharvest treatment in the orchard environment. This approach is unusual in the sense that the orchard phase of postharvest diseases has been frequently overlooked and undervalued in potential approaches to disease control. Xiao’s accomplishments represent significant contributions to the science of plant pathology and will have a major impact on the tree fruit industry in the U.S. Pacific Northwest in terms of reducing economic losses resulting from postharvest diseases.

Xiao has reported on this work in a series of seven papers and two notes published in Plant Disease, Phytopathology, Mycologia, and Mycological Research in 2004 and 2005, and 12 abstracts published in APS journals from 2002 to 2005. All of Xiao’s work on these diseases has been accomplished since he joined the Department of Plant Pathology at WSU in August 2000.