A team of UC Davis plant pathology department members was recently honored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its role in developing the National Plant Diagnostic Network, a program designed to protect plants against significant pests and diseases that could be introduced accidentally or through acts of bioterrorism.

In 2002, UC Davis was identified as one of six lead institutions for the new network, and UC Davis plant pathology Professor Richard Bostock was named head of its Western region, which includes 10 Western states and the U.S. territories in the Pacific.

Bostock, who was joined recently by fellow regional and project directors in Washington, D.C., accepted the USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture Partnership Award on behalf of the national network. Also acknowledged in the award are members of the western regional center team at UC Davis: Carla Thomas, associate director of the Western network; Richard Hoenisch, training and education coordinator; and Andrew Coggeshall, programmer and information technology specialist. In all, the USDA award recognized the efforts of 35 individuals from across the nation who have helped develop and implement the network’s programs.

“This is truly a team award that honors not just the contributions of the individuals directly acknowledged by the award, but the accomplishments of the many people throughout the country who are critical to the success of the National Plant Disease Network,” Bostock said. “The network has improved plant disease and pest diagnostics throughout the nation by forming productive partnerships between land grant universities and state and federal agencies involved in plant health issues.”

The network provides resources for diagnostic laboratories and diagnostician training, develops and delivers educational programs that reach thousands of individuals who are in positions to be the first detectors of a plant disease or pest outbreak, and establishes and practices communication procedures to alert those who need to know when an outbreak occurs.

“These efforts have created an unprecedented capability throughout the nation to rapidly detect, diagnose and respond to important disease-causing agents that impact agriculture," Bostock said.