For the past decade, Washington State University plant pathologist Dean Glawe has been painstakingly compiling information on the world’s Erysiphales fungi. Farmers and gardeners the world over know Erysiphales as the cause of powdery mildew, among of the world’s most damaging plant diseases. Powdery mildews attack apples, cherries, grapes, hops, wheat, onions, strawberries, gourds, melons and many other economically important crops. Growers spend millions of dollars annually trying to control them, applying more fungicides to control powdery mildews than any other plant pathogen.

Devising effective, environmentally safe and sustainable tactics for controlling powdery mildews is hampered by the fact that there are nearly 700 species that vary tremendously in their life cycles, the plant species they attack, and their capacity to cause damage. In order to provide diagnosticians and researchers with better tools to identify these fungi, Glawe led the development of the web-based Erysiphales Database. The database enables users to identify powdery mildews, to find information on their host plants, and provides links to online scientific references. The database is available at http://erysiphales.wsu.edu/.

The American Phytopathological Society, the world’s largest professional society of plant pathologists, recently chose Glawe’s database as a standard reference for authors submitting papers on powdery mildews to the journal Plant Disease. “Recognition of this database by the American Phytopathological Society is a testament to Dr. Glawe’s stature and reputation as a leading expert on this economically important group of fungi,” said Hanu Pappu, professor and chair of the WSU Department of Plant Pathology.

Glawe, a professor in the WSU Department of Plant Pathology based at the University of Washington, is well known for his research on powdery mildews. He recently authored an invited review article in The Annual Review of Phytopathology that summarized powdery mildew taxonomic research. The Erysiphales Database represents his third foray into producing online mycological resources. Previously he developed the web-based Pacific Northwest Fungi Database (http://pnwfungi.wsu.edu/programs/aboutDatabase.asp) with the goal of providing information on plant-associated fungi in the region. He also served as founding editor of North American Fungi, the world’s first online mycology journal, http://www.pnwfungi.org/.