HRI Hosts Ralstonia Webinar

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Jill Calabro, Ph.D. May 06 2020

Ralstonia solancearum race 3 biovar 2 (RSr3b2), a federal quarantine pest, was recently confirmed in a single geranium variety in a greenhouse in Michigan. This is the first confirmed case in the U.S. since 2004, after which it was eradicated. Diseased geraniums planted in the landscape can potentially infect other plants, including tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant, and must be destroyed.

Since the detection was confirmed, AmericanHort has collaborated with the importer of the geranium and with USDA APHIS toward the goal of a rapid, targeted, and effective response that minimizes unnecessary interruption. The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), the foundation of AmericanHort, joined this effort and hosted an April 29 webinar on the basics of RSr3b2. All the speakers featured have an extensive history with RSr3b2.

Dr. Caitilyn Allen, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, provided an overview of RSr3b2, such as how it spreads and prevention strategies. Dr. Allen and her team focus much of their research on the interactions of R. solancearum and its many hosts, including plant responses to infection. Some of this work was supported by the Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI), a program administered by USDA ARS to help support research beneficial to environmental horticulture. HRI works closely with USDA ARS on prioritization of projects in the FNRI program.

Dr. Matt Royer, Associate Deputy Administrator of Field Operations, Plant Protection and Quarantine, USDA APHIS, outlined the current steps being taken by USDA APHIS to eradicate this latest RSr3b2 introduction. Dr. Royer led USDA APHIS’ responses back in 2003 and 2004 to eradicate RSr3b2 as well. Similar to now, RSr3b2 was found on imported geranium in both 2003 and 2004.

Dr. Mike Klopmeyer, President of Ball FloraPlant, shared insight into what happened during this latest incident from the perspective of Ball FloraPlant, a geranium supplier. Dr. Klopmeyer has been directly involved with RSr3b2 regulations, as well as provided technical and phytosanitary support. He is also past chairman of the AmericanHort Board.

The webinar was held to help educate our industry and create awareness of RSr3b2. Roughly 330 industry members, regulators, and scientists attended. It can be viewed on the HRI website.

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