Plant Pathology Lab

CELOS > Laboratories > Plant Pathology Lab

The Plant Pathology Laboratory concentrates on finding sustainable, environmentally friendly, and economically viable alternatives for eradicating or controlling diseases and pests in the cultivation of agricultural and horticultural (food) crops, through scientific research, services, education and outreach.

Research

The aim of the research is to increase the knowledge of the mechanisms involved in plant diseases and the development of new, integrated, environmentally-friendly methods that can be applied for the prevention and / or control of diseases. An overview of the prevalent diseases in Surinamese cultivation is important. Information about diseases related to a particular crop, season, or a specific type of soil for identifying trends is important for a better prediction of diseases in relation to the changing weather, pesticide use, change in aggressiveness of pathogens.

The scientific research is divided into three main themes:
Theme 1: Diagnosis and identification of plant pathogens
Theme 2: Sustainable control of plant diseases
Theme 3: Soil health

Theme 1: Diagnosis and identification of plant pathogens
Efficient and accurate diagnosis of plant diseases and identification of plant pathogens is an essential component to reduce the use of harmful chemical pesticides and to encourage the use of sustainable, biological/organic options. Early detection of pathogens in propagation material and seed can reduce or prevent the spread of the pathogens to other growing areas. The Plant Pathology Lab uses traditional and modern techniques for diagnosing diseases in cultivation in Suriname. The scientific research focuses on adapting the technology to the Surinamese conditions

Theme 2: Sustainable control of plant diseases
There has been concern for some time about the adverse effects of conventional cultivation systems in agriculture and horticulture to increase yields and/or to protect the crop from diseases and pests. The anxiety has to do with the harmful effects of the chemicals on people and on the environment. Worldwide there is a ban on many of the harmful chemical pesticides, which gives the farmers fewer opportunities to protect their crops. The scientific research of the Plant Pathology Lab focuses on sustainable alternative and environmentally friendly methods for the control of plant pathogens, such as the effects of cultural measures, the use of resistant crops, integrated control, composting, mixing crops, organic cultivation, biological control.   

Theme 3: Soil health
The quality of the soil is one of the important components for activities for sustainable cultivation systems. Monitoring changes in soil microbial biomass (in particular of bacteria and fungi), the population structure and diversity, activity of soil enzymes and respiration of the soil, provides insight into the microbial succession in the soil. In addition to soil quality and soil fertility, micro-organisms also play an important role in the rehabilitation of poor soils, such as savannas, and of land degraded due to agriculture (monoculture, chemical control),or logging or mining activities (gold / bauxite extraction). These are referred to as advantageous organisms (“beneficial organisms” such as nitrogen-binding Rhizobium bacteria and the carbon-binding mycorrhiza fungi) that are present in or on the soil to accelerate the rehabilitation. The Plant Pathology Lab uses a combination of conventional (soil plating method and microscopy) and molecular techniques (DNA and RNA sequencing) to scientifically determine the population structure and diversity of microorganisms in the soil, and to monitor beneficial organisms.

Services

We use traditional diagnostic techniques and modern technologies for diagnosis of plant diseases. The laboratory is equipped to test for plant pathogens such as viruses, fungi and bacteria. For more information about our services, contact the Plant Pathology Lab. Plant or soil samples can be delivered from Monday to Friday 8:00h – 14:00h at the Plant Pathology lab, accompanied by a completed form that you can download here. Contact the Plant Pathology Lab for instructions on how to submit samples, and fill out your form.

Education & outreach

In the Plant Pathology Lab there are various possibilities for students to carry out research projects within the current research areas. Contact the Plant Pathology Lab for more information.