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AAFC plant pathologist recognized

November 14, 2008  By Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada

November 10, 2008, Saskatoon, Sask. – Dr. Karen Bailey of the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre in Saskatoon is this year’s recipient of the Canadian Phytopathological Society (CPS) Award for Outstanding Research.

The award is CPS’s most prestigious and recognizes Canadian research involving new concepts, discovery of new phenomena, new principles in plant pathology or novel application of existing principles.

Dr. Bailey and her team pioneered AAFC efforts to develop “reduced-risk” alternatives to conventional herbicides. Her discovery and use of naturally occurring microorganisms for weed control are leading to new bioherbicide products for registration in Canada and abroad. For the last 15 years, Dr. Bailey’s research focused on how fungi can suppress weeds, especially those having significant economic impact.

Dr. Bailey identified the phytotoxic effects of a fungus called Phoma macrostoma, which can be used to control dandelions, Canada thistle and other broadleaved weeds. These weeds are predominant in turfgrass (lawns, golf greens and public grounds), agriculture (field and horticultural crops) and agro-forestry (reforestation nurseries).

Phoma is now being developed as a granular bioherbicide for soil application. It will be a “green” substitute for 2,4-D type herbicides and can deliver the same weed control as the chemical standard.

Efforts are well under way with industry partners to bring this bioherbicide to market. The calibre of Dr. Bailey’s R&D, from discovery and efficacy testing to formulation and environmental assessment, has attracted the world’s largest marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products – the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company.

Dr. Bailey is internationally recognized for her expertise in biological control and integrated pest management of plant diseases and weeds.

Working with plant breeders during the past 15 years, she contributed to the registration of 13 barley and five wheat varieties with improved resistance to common root rot. Common root rot can cause millions of dollars in losses across the Northern Great Plains.

Dr. Bailey has championed the benefits of integrated pest management. Her work played an important role in establishing reduced tillage and crop diversification in Canada. Her findings have led to improved recommendations and new tools for managing pests in cereals, pulses and oilseeds. Collectively, these contributions help to reduce the use of pesticides on crops, thereby decreasing pesticide loads in foods and the environment.

During her 25-year career with AAFC , Dr. Bailey has brought in over $4 million of external funding and has published 134 peer-reviewed documents and 119 miscellaneous papers.


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