WSU researcher plays key role in project aimed at protecting carrot seed crop

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – Lindsey du Toit has battled pathogens on carrot seed crops for 20 years as a scientist at Washington State University.

Lindsey du Toit crouching down in a field with rows of green crops
Lindsey du Toit transplanting carrots in a seed crop experimental plot.

She is now part of a new $3 million USDA Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI) project, led by Jeremiah Dung at Oregon State University, that aims to defeat a common bacterial pathogen that causes problems for carrot farmers.

Du Toit, a professor and Extension specialist in WSU’s Department of Plant Pathology, will look at integrated pest management approaches to dealing with bacterial blight of carrot seed crops, the methods used to reduce disease pressure in fields, and how the pathogen survives. Her research will be used to finds ways to reduce that survival.

Dung, an associate professor at Oregon State University’s Madras Research & Extension Center, completed MS and PhD degrees in WSU’s plant pathology department.

“It’s an important project,” said du Toit, who is based out of WSU’s Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center. “This is one of those diseases that’s really humbling for pathologists because it’s really hard to fight. Working on a project of this scale brings together a great team of scientists that should help better manage the impact the disease has on seed crops.”

Up to 70% of the world’s supply of carrot seed is grown in the Pacific Northwest, so it’s a hugely important crop that is shipped to carrot growers around the planet. The bacterium can survive in seeds and manifest in the crops grown from that seed, making it particularly harmful for the entire industry.

Read more about the overall USDA-SCRI project in this story from OSU.