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ISPP Subject Matter Committee: Seed Pathology

Chair: Dr  Theresa (Terry)  Aveling

Seed Pathology

The ISPP Subject Matter Committee on Seed Pathology is to be revived. The Committee will address seed pathology in its broadest possible meaning. The aim is to have committee members from chemical and seed companies, universities, research institutions, government departments and international bodies such as ISTA, ISF, EPPO, NSHS etc. The production of pathogen-free seed is essential for global food security and safety. Due to economics and the importance of seed-borne diseases and pathogen-free seed in international seed trade, renewed interest in the ability to identify and detect seed-transmitted pathogens using the latest technological advances has occurred.  Seed treatments have also become more feasible and environmentally friendly. With the update of the "Annotated list of seed-borne diseases" currently taking place, the input of a revived ISPP Seed Pathology Committee will be invaluable. This is a call for all interested colleagues to participate in the ISPP Seed Pathology Committee. 

Please contact Theresa (Terry) Aveling at

International Society for Plant Pathology Seed Pathology Committee (2014)





Key words


Theresa (Terry) Aveling

South Africa

University of Pretoria

Seed-borne diseases, seed pathology, seed vigour, seed treatments

Guro Brodal



Seed borne diseases cereals, oil seed crops, legumes, grasses, seed treatment, mycotoxins, organic seed

Valerie Cockerell


Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture

Cereals, Seed pathology, test method validation,


José da Cruz Machado


Federal University of Lavras- UFLA

Seed Pathology

Lindsey du Toit


Washington State University

Vegetables, small-seeded, dry-seeded

Marie-Agnes Jacques



Xanthomonas, Clavibacter, Bacteria', Microbial community plant-microbe interaction

Gary Munkvold


Iowa State University

Maize, soybean, vegetables

Gianfranco Romanazzi


Marche Polytechnic University

Vegetables, seed-borne diseases, seed pathology, diagnosis, control measures

Dorota Szopińska


Polish Phytopathological Society

Seed pathology, fungi associated with seeds, methods of seed health evaluation

Casiana M. Vera Cruz


International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

Rice, Xanthomonas oryzae


  Theresa A.S. Aveling

Theresa (Terry) Aveling is an Associate Professor at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in the Department of Plant Science.  She obtained her PhD at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in1994. She is a seed scientist working on fungi associated with diseases of seeds and transmitted by seed.  This involves the detection and identification of seed-borne and seed-transmitted diseases, the characterization of the causal agents, their transmission, effect on seed germination and vigour and their control. As leader of the Seed Science Research group, current research projects include studies on the identification of seed-borne pathogens on Brassica spp. and other vegetables, herbs, pine, eucalyptus and acacia and the evaluation of fungicide and alternative seed treatments to control these pathogens. This also includes the efficacy of plant extracts and biological agents as seed treatments or soil amendments. New or re-emerging seed-borne diseases of maize and sunflower of economic significance due to export regulations are studied and seed treatments to control them are evaluated for registration in South Africa. Terry has been involved with the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) for many years and was Vice-chairman of the ISTA Seed Storage Committee (2001to 2007), Chairman of the Seed Health Committee for the periods 2007 to 2010 and 2010 to 2013 and is currently Vice-chairman of this committee (2013 to 2016). Prof Aveling was appointed as Chairman of the Seed Pathology Committee of the International Society of Plant Pathology (ISPP) in 2013 and currently holds this position.
  Guro Brodal

Dr Guro Brodal is a Research scientist in the Department of fungal diseases in Bioforsk, Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, Plant Health and Plant Protection Division. Her research area includes epidemiology and control of diseases on agricultural crops (small grain cereals, grasses, oil seed crops, legumes), including seed-borne diseases/seed pathology, seed health testing, seed treatments and seeds for organic farming. Recent years her main focus has been on Fusarium and mycotoxins in oats and wheat, including agronomic strategies to reduce mycotoxin risk, and effects on cereal seed quality.  She is also involved in work on pathogens on conifer seeds, and on alternative seed treatments against seed-borne diseases in organic cereals.
  Valerie Cockerell

Valerie Cockerell is Head of the Official Seed Testing Station for Scotland at the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), a division of the Agriculture, Food and Rural Communities Directorate, Scottish Government. Her research interests and areas of expertise include: 1) The provision of seed testing services and supervision of licensed seed testing stations; UK training of seed analysts and seed samplers; seed quality research and development; and strategic planning of seed testing services, 2) Promotion of International method validation and proficiency testing through collaboration with the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA). She attends ISTA Meetings ensuring that Scotland’s growers are supported by the most appropriate, robust and cost effective methodology to determine seed quality, and 3) Epidemiology and control of seed-borne pathogens.
She joined SASA in 1979 as Seed Analyst and at the same time completed a BSc (Hons.) Life Sciences (Microbiology & Biochemistry). After a short spell as a Pesticide Usage Surveyor, she was promoted to Senior Seed Analyst: Seed Health in 1987 and to Seed Pathologist in 1990. With over 30 years of experience of seed testing she now lead the OSTS as Chief Officer and Head. As Quality Manger of the OSTS she ensured their successful accreditation (ISO 17025) to both ISTA and UKAS in 1998 and maintenance of those accreditations since then. As a member (including Chair 2004-2007) of the ISTA Seed Health Committee 1998-2012, she was very involved in the introduction of the ISTA Method Validation programme for Seed Health Testing.
  José da Cruz Machado

José da Cruz Machado is a professor at the Federal University of Lavras- UFLA in the Departamento de Fitopatologia, Campus Universitário, Brazil. His research focuses on seed pathology.
    Lindsey du Toit

Lindsey du Toit grew up in KwaZulu Natal Province, South Africa, where she completed her undergraduate education at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg in 1991 with a major in plant pathology. Lindsey then completed MS (1995) and PhD (1998) degrees at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, majoring in plant pathology. Her first position after graduate school was as the diagnostician for the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Lab at the Puyallup Research & Extension Center of Washington State University (WSU), from 1998 to 2000. Lindsey then took a position as Assistant Professor & Extension Specialist in vegetable seed pathology for WSU in 2000, based at the WSU Mount Vernon NWREC. Lindsey was promoted to Associate Professor in 2006, and Professor in 2013. The focus of Lindsey’s vegetable seed pathology research and extension program is the etiology, biology and management of diseases that affect vegetable seed crops grown in the Pacific Northwest USA, primarily small-seeded vegetable seed crops such as spinach, brassicas, carrot, onion, radish, and table beet. In 2012, Lindsey started teaching a summer course in field plant pathology (Pl P 525). Lindsey is currently a member and has has served as chair of the Seed Pathology Committee of the American Phytopathological Society. She also has served as associate editor and senior editor of Plant Disease, associate editor of Phytopathology, and associate editor of Agronomy Journal.  In 2014, Lindsey was elected to serve as APS Councilor-at-Large from 2014-2017. Lindsey’s applied plant pathology program is based on synergistic interactions with vegetable and vegetable seed growers and seed companies on a regional, national, and international basis, including cooperative projects with the International Seed Health Initiative and the American Seed Trade Association.  
    Marie-Agnès Jacques

Marie-Agnès Jacques is a senior scientist working for the French National Institute for Agronomical Research (INRA) at the Institute for Research on Horticulture and Seeds at Angers, France. The team she leads explores the emergence, systematics and ecology of plant pathogenic bacteria. Through genetic approaches, phylogenetic and typing methods her team focuses on the pathways used by bacteria to transmit to and by seeds and on the epidemiology of the disease they cause. Comparative genomics, establishment of repertoires of genes, and functional genetics approaches allowed them to identify key factors involved in host specificity of Xanthomonas. More recently, the influence of Xanthomonas on the structure of the seed microbiome has been studied by metabarcoding and metagenomics analyses. This team hosts the French Collection of Plant-associated Bacteria (CFBP-CIRM), which is an ISO 9001-certified Biological Resource Center and one of the most important collections of phytopathogenic bacteria worldwide. Her team is also involved in the development of phenotyping tools for a thorough and efficient analysis of plant-pathogen interactions (PHENOTIC platform).  
    Gary Munkvold

Gary Munkvold is Professor of Plant Pathology at Iowa State University. He holds a PhD in Plant Pathology from the University of California, Davis. He has worked for nearly 20 years in research, extension, and teaching in the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology (1993-2002; 2006-) and Seed Science Center (2006-) at Iowa State University. His current research program focuses on pathogens that are seed-borne or affect seed production in a range of crops; and the epidemiology and management of mycotoxin-producing fungi in corn. He teaches the only seed pathology course offered in the U.S., and serves as Chair of the ISU Graduate Program in Seed Technology and Business, a distance-education curriculum. From 2003-2006, he was Research Coordinator for the Pathology, Entomology, and Seed Science group at Pioneer Hi-Bred, International, Inc. in Johnston, IA, with global responsibilities for coordinating and improving disease and insect resistance evaluation of Pioneer corn hybrids. Dr. Munkvold has conducted research on toxigenic Fusarium species, interactions between insects and plant pathogens, and management of corn diseases, including the role of transgenic resistance to insects. He has authored or co-authored more than 70 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, more than 200 extension articles and publications, and several book chapters; he has been an invited speaker at numerous national and international conferences. Dr. Munkvold was named as ISU’s first Seed Science Endowed Chair in 2006. He received the 2013 ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences award for Distance-Education Teaching.  
    Gianfranco Romanazzi

Prof. Gianfranco Romanazzi got the degree cum laude in Agricultural Sciences at University of Bari, where he joined the PhD in "Crop Protection", he is Professor of Plant pathology and Plant disease management at the Marche Polytechnic University. His scientific activities have involved different aspects of plant pathology, and he has focused on the diagnosis and characterisation of plant pathogens and the control of plant diseases, both in the field and after the harvest, through the use of environmentally friendly means. First topic regarded the evaluation of effectiveness of natural substances, antagonistic microrganisms, salts, and physical stresses (hypobaric treatments, UV-C irradiation) to control biotic diseases of grapes, sweet cherry, strawberry and kiwifruit in storage. Since a tenth of years he investigates the use of chitosan, a natural biopolymer able to induce resistance in the host, to control diseases of fruit, focusing on the effectiveness against target organisms and on some of main mechanisms of action involved. In 2004-2005, part of his research was carried at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Parlier, California, in the framework of an Italian National Research Council (CNR) Fellowship. The second subject regarded investigations on spread, diagnosis and epidemiology of pathogens threat for the quality of fruit tree crops, both in the canopy and in the nursery. In last years he focused his interest on grapevine yellows, an emerging problem for viticulture of Central Italy. In the behalf of this activity, he carried out biological and epidemiological investigations on grapevine yellows in Marche and Abruzzi. Several efforts have been carried out to better understand the phenomenon known as recovery. The possibility to induce the recovery in Bois noir infected plants by agronomical practices and treatments with elicitors was investigated, and a system to evaluate gene expression in infected plants was setted up. His scientific activities have been carried out through European Union (FP7 framework) and Italian national (PRIN, Cariverona Foundation) and regional (from Apulia, Tuscany, Marche) research projects, where he has acted as a Coordinator or as the Leader of a Research Unit. He is a member of the COST actions on phytoplasma (FA0807) and endophytes (FA1103), and he is part of the Management Committee of the Italian Phytoplasma Working Group. He has been on the Organising Committees of several Italian and international meetings. He has reviewed scientific projects for Italian and international institutions (CONYCYT, Chile; TWAS, Trieste, Italy; GNSF, Georgia; SRNSF, Georgia; Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia, Croatia). He has been a Reviewer for more than 40 international scientific journals, and he is Editor for the Postharvest Biology and Technology journal, and the Journal of Integrated -OMICS, and he is Senior Editor for the Australasian Plant Pathology journal. He is member of Italian Phytopathological Society (SIPaV), Italian Horticultural Society (SOI), Italian Society for Plant Protection (AIPP), Mediterranean Phytopathological Union (MPU), International Council for the Study of Virus and Virus-like Diseases of the Grapevine (ICVG), International Council on Grapevine Trunk Diseases (ICGTD), International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS), International Society for Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions (IS-MPMI), and American Phytopathological Society (APS). He is author of more than 210 papers published on national and international journals and proceedings of congress.  
    Dorota Szopińska

Dorota Szopińska has over 15 years experience in research and teaching. Since 2002 she has been employed as an assistant professor at the Department of Seed Science and Technology of the Poznań University of Life Sciences, Poland. Scientific interests of Dr. Szopińska are: Methods of seed health testing, relationships between seed health status and the other seed and plant characters, location of pathogens in seeds, seed treatment methods and prognostic value of seed quality parameters. She is an author or co-author of about 50 scientific publications and co-author of Seed Pathology textbook. Her educational work is related to the various areas of seed science and technology, particularly seed pathology and seed biology. She supervised 27 BSc and MSc theses concerning mainly evaluation of seed health testing methods, seed quality improvement and location of pathogens in seeds. She participated in many international meetings and visited a number of institution involved in seed production and post-harvest control in Europe and China. Dr. Szopińska is currently a member of Polish Phytopathological Society where she serves as Secretary of the Board and the Chair of Seed Pathology Division, and a member of the ISTA Seed Health Committee.  
    Casiana Vera Cruz

Casiana or "Nollie" is a Plant Pathologist (Senior Scientist II) at IRRI’s Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology (PBGB) Division. She obtained her PhD in Plant Pathology at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, USA in 1996.  With expertise on plant pathology, she is responsible for research on host plant resistance to diseases, and performs services for bacterial and fungal disease screening in breeding programs of different rice ecosystems. She also leads the IRRI-DA Heirloom Rice Project which aims to raise productivity and enrich the legacy of traditional rice through empowering communities in unfavorable rice-based ecosystems. Her expertise lies in 1) Disease resistance to bacterial and fungal pathogens, 2) Molecular host-pathogen interactions, 3) Candidate genes/QTLs association with disease resistance, 4) Development of markers and their application in marker-assisted selection for rice improvement, 5) Population biology/structure of plant pathogen, 6) Seed health management and diagnostics of seed-borne pathogens in rice, and 7) Root health in relation to aerobic rice.  

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