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Oregon State University receives more than $642,000 to detect plant diseases

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(The Center Square) – Oregon State University will receive more than $642,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create a tool to diagnose invasive diseases in native plants.

“Oregon is a leader in growing food and foliage that power and enrich our lives—from fruit, berries, and hazelnuts to wheat, plant starts, and grass seed,” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, said in a press release issued by his office. “Countless Oregon-grown products are shipped all around the globe, and I am gratified to see federal funds go toward preventing and treating harmful plant diseases so Oregon’s world-class farmers can continue to support jobs and our state’s economic growth, benefiting Oregon families for many generations.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, said the funding will greatly benefit the state’s agricultural industry.

“Oregon’s thriving agriculture is under threat from pests and plant disease,” Merkley said in the release. “This funding will help to keep Oregon’s world-renowned agricultural products healthy, which will not only benefit Oregon’s economy but allow people in Oregon and elsewhere to continue to enjoy our state’s great products.”

Plant diseases can negatively impact agriculture. Monitoring plants for diseases can prevent crops from going to waste or making people sick.

The college will create a low-cost CRISPR-based diagnostic tool capable of diagnosing plant pathogens in the field. It plans to use $642,301 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to expand the CRISPR-based tools and create web-based resources and protocols to address tests and plant diseases.

“USDA-NIFA support for this work is critical for developing next-generation diagnostic tools for managing diseases that are harming Oregon’s forests and nursery industry,” lead OSU faculty Dr. Shawn Donkin said in the release.

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