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Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Horticulture

Project Video


See more photos of the plant disease diagnostics workshop in our Phytophthora diagnostics project (Ristaino) album on Flickr.

Deployment of Rapid Diagnostic Tools for Phytophthora on Horticultural Crops in Central America

Target Countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Mexico

Principal Investigator: Jean Beagle Ristaino, North Carolina State University


Project Description

Plant disease is a limiting factor in agricultural production in Latin America. Diseases are difficult to control due to high rainfall conditions and the presence of a diversity of plant pathogenic microorganisms. Plant pathogens produce a large number of diseases on tropical crops and cause losses estimated to be as high as $30 billion per year. The risk of accidental introduction of Phytophthora species with trade requires continued monitoring and improved diagnostic capabilities.

Our overall objective is to produce a platform of tools needed to detect, identify, and ultimately prevent spread of novel species of Phytophthora with a major focus on development of surveillance tools for common and high threat species of Phytophthora on horticultural crops including potato and root crops, cacao and floriculture crops from Central America. We are deploying a series of technologies including: a Phytophthora diagnostics workshop, protocols book, a Lucid key, molecular and digital diagnostic identification systems to identify Phytophthora species and improve the diagnostic capabilities for important plant disease clinics in the region. We work with collaborators including, FHIA in Honduras, Universidad de Costa Rica, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE), The World Cocoa Foundation, DOLE Fresh Fruit, the Organization of Tropical Studies and the Associación de Mujeres Indigenous de Talamanca (ACMUITA) to conduct a survey of Phytophthora species on horticultural crops in the region. The accurate identification of Phytophthora has important implications for growers in Latin America and the US and will result in the development of a Central American Phytophthora Diagnostic Network (CAPDN).

Project Deliverables

Project updates:

Narrated slideshows

The Global Plant Health Interns in Dr. Ristaino's lab shared their experiences in photo slideshows that you can listen to: