Sharing support. Finding solutions.

The mission of PAPAS is to develop a systems approach to control plant-parasitic nematodes that threaten the potato industry in the United States.

Our Goals

  • Provide decision support tools to growers and industry members affected by nematode infestations.
  • Accelerate the development of potato varieties with nematode resistance through plant defense genes.
  • Attain compounds toxic to potato nematodes from the plant species, Solanum sisymbriifolium, or other toxic compounds for novel nematicide production.
  • Deliver information and research results to potato growers and industry stakeholders for adoption within integrated systems approaches for effective nematode management.

Our Team

Louise-Marie Dandurand, Ph.D.
PAPAS Project Director

Louise-Marie Dandurand, Ph.D.

PAPAS Project Director
Potato Cyst Nematode Program Director

Professor of Plant Pathology
University of Idaho
Email: LMD@uidaho.edu
Phone: 208-885-6080

Cynthia Gleason, Ph.D.
PAPAS Project Co-Director

Cynthia Gleason, Ph.D.

PAPAS Project Co-Director
Assistant Professor
Washington State University
Email: cynthia.gleason@wsu.edu
Phone: 509-335-3742

Joseph Kuhl, Ph.D.
PAPAS Project Co-Director

Joseph Kuhl, Ph.D.

PAPAS Project Co-Director
Associate Professor
University of Idaho
Email: jkuhl@uidaho.edu
Phone: 208-885-7123

Walter DeJong, Ph.D.
PAPAS Project Co-Director

Walter DeJong, Ph.D.

PAPAS Project Co-Director
Cornell University
Email: wsd2@cornell.edu
Phone: 517-881-3740

Philip Watson, Ph.D.
PAPAS Project Co-Director

Philip Watson, Ph.D.

PAPAS Project Co-Director
University of Idaho
Email: pwatson@uidaho.edu
Phone: 208-962-1312

Inga Zasada
PAPAS Project Co-Director

Inga Zasada, Ph.D.

PAPAS Project Co-Director
Plant Pathologist
Email: inga.zasada@usda.gov
Phone: 541-738-4051

Principal Investigators

Allan Caplan, Ph.D.
PAPAS Principal Investigator
University of Idaho

Marisol Quintanilla, Ph.D.
PAPAS Principal Investigator
Michigan State University

Max Feldman, Ph.D
PAPAS Principal Investigator

Ananth Kalyaranaman, Ph.D.
PAPAS Principal Investigator
Washington State University

Rich Novy, Ph.D.
PAPAS Principal Investigator

Inna Popova, Ph.D.
PAPAS Principal Investigator
University of Wisconsin

Sagar Sathuvalli, Ph.D.
PAPAS Principal Investigator
University of Oregon

Rhett Spear, Ph.D.
PAPAS Principal Investigator
University of Idaho

Xiaohong Wang, Ph.D.
PAPAS Principal Investigator

Jonathan Whitworth, Ph.D.
PAPAS Principal Investigator

Fangming Xiao, Ph.D.
PAPAS Principal Investigator
University of Idaho

Graduate Students and Post Doctorals

Faith Fishburn

I’m Faith Fishburn and I’m pursuing my Ph.D. in Plant Sciences at the University of Idaho. I joined the University of Idaho as an undergraduate in 2019, majoring in Agricultural Biotechnology and Plant Genomics. After graduating in 2022, I decided to stay at the University of Idaho for my graduate degree.

My overarching research objective is to develop potatoes resistant to the Potato Cyst Nematode (Globodera pallida). I work to incorporate genes from a naturally resistant plant species, Litchi tomato (Solanum sisymbriifolium), into potatoes. I am currently working on evaluating the resistance conferred to potatoes from six novel receptor-like-kinase genes.

Nataniel Jablonski

My name is Nataniel Jablonski. I am a PhD student in Plant Science at the University of Idaho. Before this program, I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biotechnology at Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Poland. My research interests include the molecular basis of plant-pathogen interactions, genetic engineering, and bioinformatics.

I am currently exploring how a wild plant from the nightshade family, the Litchi Tomato, naturally fights off a damaging pest known as PCN (pale cyst nematode), which threatens Idaho’s famous potatoes. My research aims to develop transgenic potatoes with novel resistance genes that, alone or combined with other sources of resistance, could successfully reduce yield loss from nematode infections.

Chloe Lewis

My name is Chloe Lewis. I am a second year Ph.D. student in Dr. Fangming Xiao’s lab at the University of Idaho. I graduated from Louisiana State University of Alexandria in 2019, where I earned two degrees: a B.S. in Biology and B.S. in Chemistry. Before joining the Xiao lab, I worked as a technician in a Molecular and Cellular Physiology laboratory at LSU Health Shreveport. 

My current research is focused on elucidating the cellular mechanisms behind plant immune response to the nematode pheromone ascaroside #18.  My lab has recently discovered that ascaroside #18 initiates plant basal immune responses through perception by the cell surface receptor Nematode-Induced Leucine-Rich Repeat Receptor-Like Kinase 1 (NILR1). The next steps are to uncover the downstream molecular steps in this pathway as well as key the plant hormone(s) involved in systemic plant resistance to discover novel targets for strengthening plant defense against nematode infestation. 

Hannah Baker

My name is Hannah Baker and I am a research technician in the Zasada lab at the USDA-ARS in Corvallis, OR. I primarily work on development and evaluation of nematode control mechanisms through different application methods of the trap crop Litchi tomato, Solanum sisymbriifolium. I serve as our primary field technician to support the work done by our graduate students and am trained in nematode identification for population analyses of nematode communities.  

Gabby Studebaker

My name is Gabby Studebaker and I’m a Master’s student in the Department of Botany and Plant Pathology in Inga Zasada’s lab. I am studying root-knot nematodes, Meloidogyne chitwoodi and M. hapla, and their impacts on potato yield and quality in the Pacific Northwest. I am also working on a species-specific qPCR for M. hapla for an updated view of the distribution in the PNW.  

Hashim Ibrahim

Dr. Hashim Ibrahim is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (USA). Hashim studied Industrial Chemistry at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi (Nigeria), obtaining a Master of Science degree in 2015. In 2023, he obtained his PhD degree in Natural Product Chemistry from the University of Nairobi (Kenya) under the supervision of Professor John M. Onyari. His research focuses on the extraction, isolation, and structural elucidation of biopesticides from terrestrial plant sources. Currently, he is working on isolation and identification of nematocidal compounds from Solanum sisymbriifolium

Sarah Hale

My name is Sarah Hale and I am currently a Master’s candidate working under Dr. Joseph Kuhl. After earning my B.S. of Plant Science from University of Idaho in Fall of 2022, I joined the program to better my understanding of genetics and plant pathology. My research focuses on discovering more efficient methods of regulating Pale Cyst Nematode defense genes in potato. Using regulatory regions from Sticky Nightshade, a resistant potato relative, I hope to further efforts to develop a transgenic potato variety that is resistant to this nematode pest. After graduation, I plan to work in industry or research, using genetics to protect our food supply. 

Zarah Bita Amiri

Bita Amiri is a doctoral student and laboratory manager in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology in Dr. Louise-Marie Dandurand. She received her master’s degree from the University of Idaho in Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry in 2013. She started her career as a Research Specialist in the Potato Cyst Nematode (PCN) Program in 2014. Bita was the 2023 recipient of the Outstanding Staff Professional Support at the University of Idaho. Now, in her graduate career, one of her researches focuses on the mechanisms by which the regulated potato cyst nematode, Globodera pallida overcomes in potato. Another one of her projects identifies the potential role of the recently described potato cyst nematode rhabdovirus (PcRV) in the Idaho G. pallida populations as a biocontrol to control G. pallida as well as the effect of this virus on Idaho G. pallida pathogenicity. She is also investigating the changes in xenobiotic detoxification and metabolism in progeny G. pallida reared on different genetic background of resistant host and the role of these genes in erosion of potato resistance to G. pallida. Bita is interested in research on the virulent strategies deployed by phytoparasitic nematodes that facilitates the development of novel control approaches. 

Paige Hickman

Paige is a Ph.D. candidate and research associate senior in Dr. Dandurand’s lab. Originally from New Jersey, Paige joined the lab in 2019 after completing her master’s degree at the University of Arkansas where she researched cover crops. Paige is interested in integrated pest management and sustainable control strategies. Her research focuses on trap crops and crop rotation for control of Globodera pallida. Paige received a Western SARE graduate student grant in 2021 to support some of this work. She is also studying impact of varying PCN population densities on different potato varieties, which will be used to create predictive models for PCN reproduction and yield loss. Another one of her projects investigates pathogenicity and competition in co-infestations of Globodera pallida and Globodera ellingtonae. Paige was the 2022 recipient of the Potato Leadership, Education and Advancement Foundation Academic Scholarship in recognition for her Ph.D. work benefitting the potato industry. She has already published some of her trap crop work in the Journal of Nematology. Paige wants to continue researching plant-parasitic nematodes and help create practical and sustainable control strategies for growers.  

Savannah Ries

I’m Savannah Ries, a master’s student at the PCN lab at the University of Idaho. In undergrad, I majored in biology at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. My research is part of a larger project with many collaborators looking into the potential of the solanaceuos plant litchi tomato (Solanum sissymbriifolium) as a potential new nematicide with a smaller environmental impact than other more broadly toxic compounds on the market today. One of my projects is testing litchi tomato tissue extracts in combination with Hydroxybenzyl alcohol. This compound seems to increase the permeability of Globodera pallida cysts, which increases the toxic effect of the extracts on the nematode eggs and juveniles.  

Chandni Shah

I received my Ph.D. degree from Sardar Patel University, India. I joined the PCN lab as a postdoc working on the Eradication of PCN (Potato cyst nematodes), following many strategies for identifying bioactive compounds from litchi tomato and understanding their biochemistry for the PAPAS project. I obtained my BS, MS, and PhD in Biotechnology from Sardar Patel University, India. I received prestigious national scholarships from the Government of Gujarat, India during my doctoral training. I was also awarded the best thesis award from the university’s best oral research paper at an international conference. I also received an international travel award from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, and published several research papers in reputed journals.

Pia Spychalla

Meet the Graduate Student: Pia Spychalla Pia’s upbringing on a potato farm in Northern Wisconsin helped her find her passion for potatoes at an early age. Following her undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, she started her Ph.D. in plant breeding at Cornell under the guidance of potato breeder Walter De Jong. As part of her Ph.D., Pia is overseeing the G. pallida resistance breeding portion of Cornell’s program, since hands-on experience is vital when training to become a potato breeder. Having shadowed Walter and field technician Matt Falise during the past two field seasons, she has started grasping the fundamentals of selection, but there is still a lot to learn. Pia’s research focuses on testing the hypothesis that stacking two partial G. pallida resistance genes will result in higher resistance levels compared to each individual gene. This hypothesis has previously been tested with other combinations of G. pallida resistance genes. In the upcoming summer of 2024, she plans to screen her population with DNA markers to identify clones with both, one, or none of the target genes. Collaborating with nematologist Louise-Marie Dandurand at the University of Idaho, they will assess the resistance levels of these clones. This research will help inform breeders working to develop potato cultivars resistant against G. pallida. In addition to her research pursuits, Pia has an interest in science communication and is minoring in the field. She has created content for the PAPAS project by writing a blog series and photographing the breeding process. This newsletter is a brief overview of what she hopes to cover in the series and includes photographs she has taken of the Cornell Potato Breeding Program 

PAPAS Advisory Committee

The PAPAS advisory committee consists of potato industry professionals, state and federal regulatory representatives, and academic individuals who have volunteered their time and efforts.

The members of this advisory committee have vast experience working with researchers and extension professionals and are well poised to provide advice from our stakeholders to advance our proposed research and extension efforts.

The main role of this committee is to evaluate our progress and provide recommendations so that the milestones of the project are achieved.

Farmers, Agronomists, and Processors

Lorin Clinger
President of Lorin Clinger Industries
Shelley, Idaho

Chris Hansen
General Manager for CSS Farms
Empire State Potato Growers

Mark Urquhart 
Senior Director of Farm Operations
Cavendish Farms

Diagnostic Clinics

Sam Chavoshi
Director of AgNema

Potato Grower Organizations

Travis Blacker
Industry Relations Director
Idaho Potato Commission

Jim Ehrlich
Executive Director
Colorado Potato Administrative Committee

Andrew Jensen, Ph.D.
Northwest Potato Research Consortium

John Lundeen
Director of research and analysis, Potatoes USA
Chair of the Potato Research Advisory
Committee (PRAC)

Chris Voigt
Executive Director, Washington Potato Commission

Research Experts

Mike Thornton, Ph.D.
Professor of Plant Sciences, University of Idaho

Philip Roberts, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Nematology
University of California, Riverside

Regulatory and Policy

Brian Marschman
State Plant Health Director for Idaho