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Plant Pathology

Department of Plant Pathology


My Summer Internship at Fort Detrick, Maryland

From the CFAES Student Blog > Internships

Elizabeth Roche, Plant Pathology

This summer I was a USDA Wallace Carver Intern working at the USDA ARS Foreign Disease – Weed Science Research Unit in Fort Detrick, Maryland.

I worked specifically with the use of foreign pathogens for biological control of weeds.  The goal of the weed biocontrol research is to find plant pathogens that are keeping the weeds under natural control in their native habitat.  Many of these pathogens are not found in the United States, and are under containment.

There are many studies that are conducted on the pathogens to assure safe release. The overall goal of the weed research is to support sustainable agriculture, by eliminating a reliance on chemicals for the control of weeds. One of the projects I was working on was a leaf counting project.  I surveyed 20 plants to see when leaves grow and fall off plants with a specific fungus, Puccinia punctiformis.  This information is important to helping to understand the disease cycle of the fungus.  Understanding the disease cycle with this project will help develop a biological control to manage Canadian thistle.