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Entomology and Plant Pathology

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  • May 5, 2015 

FBI Attends NIMFFAB Plant Pathology Field Training

Insect CollectionThe National Institute for Microbial Forensics & Food and Agricultural Biosecurity (NIMFFAB), within Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, conducted a Plant Pathology Field Training May 5th-7th, 2015, to provide FBI scientists and investigators with information and hands-on experience, in an agricultural setting, with techniques and protocols for the investigation of cases of crime or bioterrorism involving a plant disease.

Food and fiber crops, as well as natural plant resources such as forests and rangelands, are open systems that are vulnerable to endemic and introduced or emerging pathogens and pests. The consequences of an extensive disease outbreak can include economic hardship for farmers, higher commodity prices, lack of availability of certain agricultural products, lost markets, and downstream effects on transport, processing and value-added industries. However, investigating an outbreak of a plant disease is likely to require techniques and approaches that are different from, or additional to, those needed to investigate an attack involving a human or animal pathogen.

Insect CollectionScientists from the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, VA, were joined by FBI investigators based in Oklahoma City, OK, in the field event, which was hosted by NIMFFAB faculty on the Oklahoma State University-Stillwater campus and farm to gain hands-on experience and learn concepts and skills specific to the investigation of a plant disease outbreak. Topics covered included recognizing a natural disease pattern versus intentional introductions, methods for sampling plants, soil and insects from crop settings, and approaches for detecting and identifying plant pathogens in the field and laboratory, all of which are necessary for an effective investigation of a plant disease outbreak.

To address a national need for investigating cases of agricultural crime and/or bioterrorism, NIMFFAB develops and adapts technologies developed in molecular detection and epidemiology for use with pathogens of crops and other plant resources and communicates those capabilities to law enforcement and security agency personnel at the state, national and international levels.

Plant Pathology Field TrainingOSU’s National Institute for Microbial Forensics & Food and Agricultural Biosecurity conducts research, education and outreach supportive of national homeland security needs in microbial forensics, agricultural biosecurity, and food safety.


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  • Dr. Javlon Tashpulatov and NIMFFAB members visit OSU HSC Department of Forensics, Tulsa, OK

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  • NIMFFAB Faculty and Staff Visit the OSU University Multispectral Laboratory in Ponca City, OK

    Members of the National Institute for Microbial Forensics and Food and Agricultural Biosecurity (NIMFFAB) at Oklahoma State traveled to the OSU University Multispectral Laboratories (OSU-UML) in Ponca City, OK, on Tuesday, May 26, 2009. NIMFFAB Director Jacque Fletcher, Forensic Sciences faculty member Jarrad Wagner, and graduate students Stephanie Rogers, TeeCie West and Mindy James joined UML staff to learn about the OSU-UML's capabilities. The group discussed the UML's ability to serve as a focal point for collaboration and communication among researchers from Oklahoma and nationwide who are working on common themes in homeland security, and possibilities for collaborative ventures.

    After discussing the OSU-UML capabilities, the group toured facilities that included state-of-the-art, modular laboratories, large conference rooms and offices, an indoor Olympic-sized swimming pool, a university center, and a capacious cafeteria. The facility has the capability to store up to a petabyte of data on its advanced computer system. The OSU-UML facilities are therefore ideal for both individual and group research projects and for large-scale professional conferences.

     Figure 1. Dr. James Barnes, UML scientist, demonstrates the laboratory's modular design and state-of-the-art equipment for the NIMFFAB visitors. 

    Figure 2. Jim Lewellen, UML scientist (center), describes the facility's capabilities 

    to NIMFFAB Director Jacque Fletcher, NIMFFAB faculty member Jarrad Wagner,
    UML scientist James Barnes, graduate students TeeCie 
    West, Stephanie Rogers, and Mindy James.

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  • Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (July/August 2008): The Bulletin Interview: Jacqueline Fletcher - Plant Detective

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  • September 23, 2008 ..... Hiring of Dr. Francisco M. Ochoa Corona, NIMFFAB:

    Dr. Francisco M. Ochoa Corona was appointed Assistant Professor in the National Institute for Microbial Forensics & Food and Agricultural Biosecurity (NIMFFAB), Entomology and Plant Pathology Department, Oklahoma State University (OSU). He comes to us from the Investigation and Diagnostic Centre (IDC) at Biosecurity New Zealand (BNZ), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), where he was Principal Adviser in Virology. Dr. Ochoa Corona, a forensic plant pathologist, specializes in delivering and developing reference diagnostics for exotic, naturalized, and indigenous plant viruses and other phytopathogens of relevance to agricultural biosecurity. His work is applicable to plant pathogens that can be intercepted at the border, or detected by general surveillance of field settings or within transitional facilities. Ochoa Corona's research program in plant pathology will focus on agricultural biosecurity forensic applications of interest in Oklahoma, the southern plains and the United States. He will develop and teach a new undergraduate course in agricultural and food biosecurity and will contribute scientific input to regulatory officials regarding plant health emergencies.

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  • Workshop: Plant Pathogen Forensics: Filling the Gaps, January 11-13, 2007, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 


  • "Microbial Forensics and Ag Biosecurity: A National Priority" - OSU Vangard article by Jana Smith, OSU Research Communications. 


  • Fall, 2007 ..... Hiring of Dr. Jarrad Wagner, OSU CHS: Dr. Jarrad Wagner teaches courses and mentors research students in the area of forensic toxicology. Dr. Wagner formerly served as a Chemist for the FBI Laboratory, where he worked on crime scene investigations involving hazardous materials. His prior law enforcement experience also includes his time as a Forensic Scientist in the Toxicology section of the Orange County (CA) Sheriff-Coroner's office and his service as a Reserve Police Officer in the City of Irvine, CA. Dr. Wagner holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from the University of California at Irvine. He has published several articles in scientific journals and has made presentations related to forensic science for professional institutes and trainings throughout the United States. 


  • "Putting forensics to work in the field" - Farmer-Stockman, Willie Vogt 

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  • "Food Safety Experts at AAAS Briefing Urge More Protection for Crops and Livestock" - Benjamin Somers, AAAS 

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  • NIMFFAB group trip: National Agricultural Biosecurity Center, Manhattan, KS, July 2007 

    Travellers included graduate students TeeCie West, Stephanie Shryock and Christy Baker from OSU-Stillwater and Charlene Beaumann and Jesse Carver from OSU-Center for Health Sciences, Tulsa. Faculty visitors were Ulrich Melcher, Jacque Fletcher and Astri Wayadande from Stillwater, and Rob Allen from Tulsa. Our hosts at the NABC, Director Jim Stack and Associate Director Will Baldwin, showed us around their impressive facility - as well as the beautiful Konza Prairie!


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