Paret Lab, Plant Pathology


We are all plant pathologists; we study bacteria, fungi and viruses that causes diseases on plants. You may be more familiar on a day-to-day basis with medical scientists who studies human diseases or veterinary scientists who studies animal diseases; the difference in our case is that we study plant diseases!.

Our specific area of study are pathogens of vegetables and ornamental crops. Students and research scientists in our lab conduct studies on how to identify and characterize plant pathogens; understanding the biology of pathogens and the etiology (cause) of plant diseases; and how to manage plant diseases of economic relevance in the United States and Worldwide.


Mathews L. Paret

Assistant Professor, Plant Pathology

Department of Plant Pathology, University of Florida

North Florida Research and Education Center

155 Research Road, Quincy, FL 32351, USA

850-875-7154, 850-875-7188 (fax)

E:mail: paret@ufl.edu

skype id: mathewslparet

Our Lab Info

About us

Mason Newark, Ph.D student, USA

My research is on examining risk factors of Didymella bryoniae epidemics in watermelon production; inoculum sources and fungicide resistance. D. bryoniae causes Gummy stem blight disease and is a major fungal pathogen of watermelon worldwide. It can cause yield losses of >30% under ideal condition for disease occurrence. The goal of my research is to study the basis of fungicide resistance and developing strategies for managing the disease in the U.S and in China.

Amanda Strayer, Ph.D student, USA

My research is on developing field-based diagnostic techniques for Xanthomonas spp. that causes bacterial spot of tomato, understanding host-pathogen interactions, and evaluation of antibacterial ability of advanced metal nanomaterials for use against copper tolerant strains of X. perforans. The goal of my research is to develop an integrated management strategy including early field detection of the pathogen and disease management using alternative strategies to copper bactericides.

Sanju Kunwar, Ph.D student, Nepal

My research is on “Systems approach for management of bacterial wilt of tomato caused by Ralstonia solanacearum”. Bacterial wilt of tomato is a major problem for farmers worldwide and the disease can cause >50% yield loss in fields with previous history of the pathogen. The goal of my research is to develop a comprehensive Integrated Pest Management strategy for disease management in the tropics and sub-tropics where the disease is a major problem.

Eric Newberry, Ph.D student, USA

My research is on “Characterization and Integrated Pest Management of novel strains of Pseudomonas syringae, a bacterial pathogen associated with watermelon, squash and cantaloupe”. Through understanding the diversity, biology, and epidemiology of P. syringae, the goal of my research is to develop a management protocol that will effectively reduce the impact of diseases caused by P. syringae and thereby supporting seed producers, transplant producers and farmers in successful production.  

Binoy Babu, Post-Doctoral Fellow, India

My research is on developing new diagnostic techniques for plant viruses. Of particular interest is developing tools for detection of Rose Rosette Virus (RRV), an Emaravirus that affects roses. The disease caused is Rose Rosette Disease and is of major concern to the U.S rose industry as currently there are no effective disease management strategies. The goal of my research is to develop highly sensitive detection techniques and developing an integrated program for disease management.

Laura Ritchie, Biological Scientist, USA

My research is on testing and developing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs for diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, oomycetes and viruses on tomato, watermelon, cantaloupe, pepper and roses in Florida. I am also the manager of the lab and greenhouse facilities of our research program. I work closely with graduate students, post-doctoral fellow, plant disease diagnostician and visiting students and interns in ensuring that their research needs and met timely.

Fanny iriarte, Biological Scientist, Plant Disease Diagnostician, Bolivia

I manage the diagnostic clinic of the University of Florida, North Florida Research and Education Center and works on a daily basis in identifying the cause of plant diseases in infected plant samples and placing management recommendations for farmers, extension agents, master gardens and research faculty. I also train graduate students, and visiting students and interns on basic and advanced diagnostic techniques.

Eduardo Evaristo da Silva, Visiting Student, Brazil

I am learning how to grow plants, inoculate plants and cause infections, rate disease severity and how to process samples for pathogen identification. The goal at the end of my training program is to understand basics in plant pathology, and to be skillful in conducting basic and advanced diagnostic of pathogens and evaluating nanomaterials against Phytopthora capsici and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum in watermelon.

YingYu Liao, M.S student, Taiwan

My research is on understanding the role of bacterial Type VI Secretion System in pathogenicity of Xanthomonas perforans, the causal agent of bacterial spot of tomato and evaluation of the antibacterial properties of metal oxide nanoparticles against copper tolerant strains of X. perforans. The goal of my research is to better understand the host-pathogen interactions of the tomato - X. perforans model system and also developing alternatives for copper for management of the disease.

Students graduated from our lab

Amanda Strayer, M.S. Plant Pathology, Summer 2014; currently Ph.D student in our lab

Sanju Kunwar, M.S. Plant Pathology, Fall 2014; currently Ph.D student in our lab

Yonas Kefialew, Ph.D Plant Pathology, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, Summer 2014; currently Plant Pathologist at the Gambella Agricultural Research Institute, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research

Former Interns

Surendra Osti, Nepal (3 months), 2011, currently Ph.D student in Agricultural Economics and Agri-Business, Louisiana State University

Sanju Kunwar, Nepal ( 6 months), 2012, currently Ph.D student in our lab

Eric Newberry, USA (6 months), 2013, currently Ph.D student in our lab

Mathews L. Paret, India

The key areas of my research interests include advanced nanomaterials, grafting for soil-borne disease management, integrated pest management and diagnostics. I chair the dissertation/thesis committees of Mason, Amanda, Sanju, Eric and YingYu and mentor them during planning of experiments, discussing progress, evaluating results, troubleshooting, and publishing findings from our research in peer-reviewed journal articles. My program is heavily supported by Dr. Iriarte, Dr. Babu and Ms. Ritchie.

Team support

Our lab is able to conduct many of our research studies due to the wonderful support we get from our collaborators. Our key collaborators at the University of Florida are

Dr. Joshua H. Freeman, Horticulture/Vegetable Crops Specialist, NFREC, University of Florida; Dr. Gary W. Knox, Environmental Horticulture/Ornamental Crops Specialist, NFREC, University of Florida; Dr. Jeffrey B. Jones, Professor, Plant Pathology/Bacteriology, University of Florida and Dr. Nicholas S. Dufault, Plant Pathology/Fungal Epidemiology, University of Florida.

Many of our other collaborators at the University of Florida, other universities and research institutions in the U.S and worldwide also contribute significantly to our research efforts.