Monterey County Lab To Assist in Biosecurity Efforts

The Issue

Biosecurity refers to safeguarding our national and state agricultural industries from damage caused by introduced plant pathogens and pests. Biosecurity plant pathology programs address two potential sources of introduced threats -- the unintentional, accidental introduction of exotic pathogens from outside the state or country and the intentional, deliberate introduction of damaging pathogens by factions antagonistic to our nation. Deliberate acts can be considered bioterrorism.

In response to the attacks on Sept. 11 and the increased concerns about terrorism worldwide, the United States established a program to heighten awareness and detection of introduced plant pathogens and pests. The National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) is a nationwide program that focuses on finding and identifying introduced plant pathogens, communicates such findings to appropriate network authorities, and trains professionals in various fields to look for these possible new threats. NPDN coordinates and organizes researchers, plant pathologists, extension personnel, regulatory agents, and industry members into a national network.

What Has ANR Done?

Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Steven Koike had already established an extensive plant diagnosis program for coastal California farmers so he was invited to participate in the NPDN program by Rick Bostock, UC Davis professor and director of the NPDN Western Region. Koike’s lab is equipped to isolate and identify a wide range of fungal, bacterial and nematode pathogens. During his 17-year career with Cooperative Extension, he has identified numerous new diseases of vegetable, herb, and ornamental crops. His Extension lab is therefore in a good position to contribute to biosecurity efforts to detect potential new disease problems.

As part of the California network within NPDN, Koike’s lab was provided with a digital camera that can take photomicrographs from his microscope and send these electronically to other diagnosticians and NPDN members within the network. Koike’s lab is the only county-based CE lab in California to be directly involved with laboratory analyses and diagnoses in this way.

The Payoff

Salinas-based Lab is Well-positioned to Detect New Disease Threats

The expertise of Koike and his facility in Salinas enhance the California NPDN team that is watching for exotic pathogen outbreaks. Local growers benefit from the improvements made to the Koike lab, which will allow him to provide additional diagnostic services to the industry. As part of the network, Koike will also benefit from contacts with plant pathologists, diagnosticians and extension personnel throughout the country.


Supporting Unit: Monterey County

Steven T. Koike, UCCE Plant Pathology Farm Advisor, 1432 Abbott Street, Salinas, CA 93901
(831) 759-7350;