Plant Sciences Building

Plant Pathology Department is on the second floor of the Plant Sciences Building

Welcome to the Plant Pathology Department!

The Department is accredited through the Graduate School of the University of Arkansas by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Students can enter the program in Plant Pathology from many areas of study but a background in biological sciences is very helpful.

Understanding the nature and control of plant diseases that affect our lives is the central mission of the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Arkansas. It strives to maintain a balanced inventory of programs in both basic and applied research. The Department of Plant Pathology conducts research, extension, teaching and service focused on understanding and controlling plant diseases. The Department Faculty focus on disease management in crops, fungal plant pathogen biology, host/pathogen genetics, molecular host-pathogen interactions, nematology, virology, plant bacterial pathogens, and biological control. The Department is dedicated to educating the next generation of agricultural scientists as well as the general public and agriculture industry about plant diseases and appropriate management methods that balance environmental and economic concerns. Our programs are actively supported by federal, state, and private sources - providing a stimulating atmosphere for student achievement and professional reward.

Plant Disease Management

Given the diverse plant production in Arkansas, research and extension in applied disease management has long been a strength of the program. Research and extension strengths include cotton (Kirkpatrick, Robbins, Rothrock); spinach and tomato (Correll); soybean (Bluhm, Kirkpatrick, Korth, Robbins, Rupe, Tzanetakis); rice (Correll, Rothrock, Wamishe); corn and grain sorghum (Bluhm, Kirkpatrick); fruits and vegetables (Correll, Kirkpatrick, Tzanetakis); precision agriculture technologies (Spurlock); pesticide use and safety (Spradley, Kirkpatrick). The Department offers statewide plant diagnostic services through the Cooperative Extension Service Plant Health Clinic in Fayetteville, AR (S. Smith) and the Nematode Diagnostic Laboratory located at the Southwest Research and Extension Center near Hope, AR (Bateman, Kirkpatrick). Many other plant systems are also worked on as need and opportunity dictates.

Fungal Biology

A wide range of research activities are conducted on the biology, ecology, epidemiology, genetics, and molecular biology of economically important fungal plant pathogens. Research strengths include work on diseases caused by Albugo, Colletotrichum, Fusarium, Hypoxylon, Macrophomina, Peronospora, Phomopsis, Phytophthora, Puccinia, Pyricularia, Pythium, Rhizoctonia, and Thielaviopsis. (Bluhm, Correll, Kirkpatrick, Rothrock, Rupe)

Plant Biotechnology

Plants exhibit a wide range of responses when they are infected by a pathogen or wounded by an insect. As a defense mechanism, plants often express sets of specific genes and produce their own defense chemicals inducing the plant to become more resistant to subsequent attack. Several laboratories in the Department are using advanced molecular techniques to examine the interactions between plants and pests to identify and characterize novel genes expressed after pathogen infection or insect damage. The characterization of plant defenses at the molecular level could ultimately lead to novel strategies for increasing plant resistance to important insects and pathogens. (Bluhm, Jia, Korth)


Research activities include nematode morphology, taxonomy, ecology, population dynamics (including overwinter survival), and adaptation of precision ag technologies for identification and control. Research efforts also include host range, resistance, and molecular relationships of soybean cyst nematode; biology, variability, and resistance to root-knot nematodes in cotton, soybean and other hosts; and resistance to reniform nematode in cotton and soybean. Nematode management studies include resistance, cultural practices, and biological control with reniform, root-knot and soybean cyst nematodes. (Kirkpatrick, Robbins)

Host-Pathogen Interactions

Research activities involve work on the molecular biology of microorganisms and the plant hosts they attack. Efforts have focused on the identification and characterization of microbial genes involved in infection, host genes involved in plant defenses, and breeding for disease resistance. The Department also has modern facilities for genetically engineering agriculturally important plant hosts including rice. A wide range of plant tissue culture facilities also are available. Capabilities include microbial and plant functional genomics. ( Bluhm, Korth, Rojas, Tzanetakis)


Plant virology in the Department of Plant Pathology provides expertise in the areas of molecular virology, and virus-vector interactions. Areas of emphasis include the study of the molecular basis of viral pathogenesis. Vector studies are aimed at determining the properties of viruses and vectors that are responsible for the specificity of plant virus transmission by aerial vectors. (Tzanetakis)

Biological Control

Biological control research has a long tradition at the University of Arkansas, including the first biological herbicide for weed control in a field crop, Collego. The tradition in biological control has continued with current research efforts in the use of cultural practices to enhance suppressive indigenous microflora and understanding the ecology of biological control agents. (Rothrock)