Dr. Christopher Clark
Dr. Clark has been a plant pathologist with responsibility for research on all diseases of sweetpotato and teaching plant pathology for 44 years. Early in his career he devoted a major proportion of his effort to research on management of reniform nematode, Rotylenchulus reniformis, which included evaluation of chemical controls and a search for a source of resistance in sweetpotato germplasm. He has also conducted research on other sweetpotato diseases including Streptomyces soil rot, Rhizopus soft rot, chlorotic leaf distortion, Fusarium wilt, and in recent years has focused much of his effort on the virus complex that affects sweetpotato in the U.S. He works with the LSU AgCenter variety development team and has developed screening methods for multiple diseases and routinely screens LSU AgCenter breeding lines for 10 different diseases, including root knot. While LSU AgCenter lines have been screened for resistance to Meloidogyne incognita for decades and many have high levels of resistance to this nematode, screening for resistance to Meloidogyne enterlobii was initiated in 2018 after a seed lot imported to Louisiana was intercepted and found to be severely affected by M. enterolobii.
Dr. Clark has been heavily involved in clean seed efforts since the inception of the virus-tested seed effort in Louisiana in the late 1990s. He has provided leadership to the National Clean Plant Network – Sweetpotato since its inception in 2015 and is involved in the current CleanSEED project which aims to broadly address issues in providing clean plants to farmers not only to manage virus diseases but also bacterial, fungal, and nematode diseases that are disseminated by infected ‘seed’ roots. He has taught general plant pathology, phytobacteriology, and practicum in plant pathology. He will contribute to the resistance screening and root architecture aspects of this project.