In the mid-1990s, the All-Russian Research Institute of Phytopathology began collaboration with several large U.S. agro-industrial companies, including Monsanto and Dupont. These companies were interested in officially registered field trials of their pesticides and cultivars (especially with regard to transgenic plants). They entered into contracts with the institute to carry out the required work.
By 2001, the institute had expanded research collaboration with several other U.S. organizations, including the Department of Agriculture, with financial support through the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC). By 2011, 13 ISTC projects had been initiated, with 7 completed. The remaining projects are scheduled for completion by 2013. By 2011, 75 joint articles had been published in international journals, and 1 international patent and 2 Russian patents had been obtained.
Collaborative research projects addressed the following topics:
• Genetic structures of populations of fungal, bacterial, viral, and viroid pathogens that cause economically important diseases in Russia.
• Molecular and genetic testing of the most damaging diseases of cereals and potatoes.
• Creation and maintenance of collections of Russian populations of plant pathogenic microorganisms and nematodes.
• Creation of a genbank of donors and sources of crop resistance to plant pathogens.
• Biologically active molecules of natural origins that are promising for plant protection against phytopathogens (fungi, viruses, viroids, bacteria, nematodes).
• Development of new methods for improvement of forecasts of dangerous phytosanitary situations, using enhanced information technology capabilities.
• Development of nonchemical ecologically acceptable technologies for potato protection against economically significant diseases.
• Genetic adaptation of emerging bacterial plant pathogens of Russia.
• Isolation of novel microbial strains of nematophagous fungi and development and applications of technologies for management of plant parasitic nematodes.
• Search for new extremophilic microbial strains for use as biocontrol agents to improve plant disease management over a wide range of environmental conditions.
• Taxonomic investigations of phytoplasma diseases on potatoes and other crops.
• Development of computer software tools for use in stimulating cereal crop diseases.
• Molecular and genetic characteristics of strains kept within the Russian State Collection of Phytopathogenic Microorganisms.
During the course of these projects, the institute obtained financial support from U.S. partners to obtain modern equipment and reagents for conducting a broad array of investigations. A special unit was established within the Russian State Collection of Phytopathogenic Microorganisms that provides opportunities to work with hazardous pathogens (Biosafety Level 3). Also, a greenhouse equipped with air conditioning and sterilization systems was constructed.
During the early 2000s, biosecurity and biosafety enhancements were introduced into the facilities with U.S. assistance. They provide for consolidation of pathogens in secure storage areas. Also, entry portals into the facilities were upgraded, and improved systems for inventory and control of pathogens were installed.
SOURCE: Research Institute of Phytopathology, May 2012.