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Plant Pathogen Culture Collections: It Takes a Village to Preserve These Resources Vital to the Advancement of Agricultural Security and Plant Pathology

September 2006 , Volume 96 , Number  9
Pages  920 - 925

Seogchan Kang , Jaime E. Blair , David M. Geiser , Chang-Hyun Khang , Sook-Young Park , Mark Gahegan , Kerry O'Donnell , Douglas G. Luster , Seong H. Kim , Kelly L. Ivors , Yong-Hwan Lee, , Yin-Won Lee , Niklaus J. Grünwald , Frank M. Martin , Michael D. Coffey , Narayanan Veeraraghavan , and Izabela Makalowska

First to fifth authors: Department of Plant Pathology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802; sixth author: Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802; seventh author: U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Microbial Genomics Research Unit, Peoria, IL 61604; eighth author: USDA-ARS, Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research Unit, Ft. Detrick, MD 21702; ninth author: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Harrisburg, PA 17110; tenth author: Mountain Hort. Crops Research & Extension Center, North Carolina State University, Fletcher 28732; eleventh and twelfth authors: School of Agricultural Biotechnology, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea; thirteenth author: Horticultural Crops Research Laboratory, USDA-ARS and Department of Botany & Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis 97330; fourteenth author: USDA-ARS, 1636 E. Alisal St., CA 93906; fifteenth author: Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Riverside 92521; and sixteenth and seventeenth authors: Center for Computational Genomics, The Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802

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Accepted for publication 17 April 2006.

Plant pathogen culture collections are essential resources in our fight against plant disease and for connecting discoveries of the present with established knowledge of the past. However, available infrastructure in support of culture collections is in serious need of improvement, and we continually face the risk of losing many of these collections. As novel and reemerging plant pathogens threaten agriculture, their timely identification and monitoring depends on rapid access to cultures representing the known diversity of plant pathogens along with genotypic, phenotypic, and epidemiological data associated with them. Archiving such data in a format that can be easily accessed and searched is essential for rapid assessment of potential risk and can help track the change and movement of pathogens. The underexplored pathogen diversity in nature further underscores the importance of cataloguing pathogen cultures. Realizing the potential of pathogen genomics as a foundation for developing effective disease control also hinges on how effectively we use the sequenced isolate as a reference to understand the genetic and phenotypic diversity within a pathogen species. In this letter, we propose a number of measures for improving pathogen culture collections.

Additional keywords: database, disease diagnosis, epidemiology, informatics, pathogen taxonomy and systematics, population genetics.

© 2006 The American Phytopathological Society