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Washington State University
WSU Puyallup Ornamental Plant Pathology

Information for Students and Learners

Sudden Oak Death

Sudden Oak Death is a disease caused a microscopic organism (Phytophthora ramorum) that was accidentally introduced into the western US. The disease has killed thousands of trees in California and Oregon, but it has had limited impact in Washington so far.

Phytophthora species are known as plant destroyers because the Greek origin of the word generally translates as follows:

  • phyton = ‘plant’
  • phthora = ‘destruction’

Species in the Phytophthora genus cause many important plant diseases globally and they have substantial impacts on society.

Much of our research focuses on this exiting group of microbes. The impacts of Sudden Oak Death are just one example of the ‘destruction’ caused by this group.

Sudden Oak Death Presentation Link

Click on the image above to download a PDF presentation about Sudden Oak Death.

Student Research Projects

We have a number of opportunities for local high school and college students to work on research projects involving sudden oak death and other plant diseases.

In general, you will gain skills in:

  • microbiology
  • applied research
  • molecular laboratory protocols
  • field and laboratory plant disease diagnostics
  • computer analyses
  • microscopic imagery
  • maintaining culture collections
  • clean technique
  • etc

Please contact us for more information or to learn more about the types of exciting and important careers these skills will prepare you for.

You can also browse the links to previous projects below for an idea of the kind of opportunities we have.

Past Student Research Projects

Additional Resources

Below are a few resources we have developed to help students who participate in our program.

YouTube Videos about Phytophthora


Information for Teachers

Please contact us if you are interested in organizing and educational activity with us or if you would like to learn more about the opportunities we have for students.