Sophia Kamenidou, National Institute for Microbial Forensics & Food and Agricultural Biosecurity, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater 74078;
Ravi Jain and
Kumar Hari, cBio Inc., Fremont, CA 94536;
James M. Robertson, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Quantico, VA 22135; and
Jacqueline Fletcher, National Institute for Microbial Forensics & Food and Agricultural Biosecurity, Oklahoma State University
Microbial pathogens of humans, animals, and plants can serve as potential agents of biowarfare, bioterrorism, and biocrime. Previously, the Microbial Rosetta Stone (MRS) Central database, an easily accessible informational resource tool, was developed to assist law enforcement personnel in the event of a disease investigation by providing key information on pathogens of concern. Although the database already contained information on a few high-profile plant pathogens, the coverage was insufficient considering the large number of plant pathogens that pose a threat, not only to agricultural production but also to natural plant resources such as forests and rangelands. In this project, 100 plant pathogens of high consequence were selected for study, existing literature on these agents was reviewed, and both the sources and key pathogen information provided therein were curated in the new Agricultural Database (AgDB), an accessory to the existing MRS Central Database. Chosen for inclusion in the MRS Central AgDB were plant pathogens having significant potential for damage to U.S. agricultural and natural ecosystems. The selection process included review of several previously developed plant-pathogen threat lists and recommendations from experts within the U.S. plant biosecurity community. Pathogen information was collected by searching a number of relevant literature databases, sites on the World Wide Web, and other resources. For inclusion in the MRS, the information was curated into categories: pathogen taxonomy, nomenclature synonyms, disease symptoms and geographic distribution, plant hosts, insect vectors, detection and diagnostic methods, laboratory and field protocols, sample collection, and epidemiology. The resulting AgDB enhances the MRS Central Database by summarizing and linking key information on high-threat plant diseases and their causal agents to relevant scientific literature and internet resources. The AgDB contains critical, key information on high-consequence plant pathogens, curated in a format that is readily accessible and easily searched. The resource enhances the existing MRS Central Database and provides law enforcement, forensic, and investigative personnel with an additional tool with which to respond to microbial emergencies, particularly those affecting the agricultural and environmental sectors.