UI Center for Research on Invasive Species and Small Populations UI Center for Research on Invasive Species and Small Populations University of Idaho College of Natural Resources University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Image Map
Aug 082012

George NewcombeAssociate Professor of Forest Pathology
Ecology & Conservation Biology
Forest Resources

(208) 885-5289


Dr. George Newcombe received a BS in Plant Science from McGill University in 1983 and a PhD in Botany from the University of Guelph in 1988. George’s research encompasses plant and forest pathology, and invasion biology. Specifically, his group is interested in the roles of fungi in plant communities. Photo in Beijing, September 2007, for the International Workshop on Biological Control of Invasive Species of Forest [Photo courtesy of Yilmaz Balci, University of Maryland]. more info

CRISSP Research
  1. Diagnosis of fungi that are new to North America or to the region. In 1992, George discovered for the first time in North America the Eurasian poplar leaf rust fungus, Melampsora larici-populina (Newcombe and Chastagner 1993). Since then, he has been a regular contributor to this element of invasion biology.
  2. Research on fungi that might protect native trees from exotic pathogens. With Beccy Ganley, a former PhD student, and Richard Sniezko, a colleague in the Forest Service, George discovered that selected endophytes might protect western white pine trees from the exotic disease, white pine blister rust. George and Richard are now using the same approach to see if endophyte inoculations of outplanted seedlings could make the difference in whitebark pine restoration. George is also attempting to use endophytes to protect hybrid popular plantations.
  3. Research on fungi that might be used against invasive plants. George has been researching selected endophytes that might work against invasive plants such as spotted knapweed, meadow hawkweed, and cheatgrass.
  4. Research on genes for resistance to exotic pathogens of plants. George has been conducting research in this area since getting involved in hybrid poplar research in 1991.
CRISSP Classes

FOR 531: Invasion Biology (for graduate students)
FOR 468: Forest and Plant Pathology (for senior undergraduate students)

 August 8, 2012
Aug 072012
Rainbow trout

Rainbow trout

Title: Evaluation of the protective efficacy of Flavobacterium psychrophilum O-polysaccharide-protein conjugate in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Student: Benjamin R. LaFrentz
Department: Fish & Wildlife Resources and the Aquaculture Research Institute

Project Summary

Flavobacterium psychrophilum is the etiological agent of coldwater disease (CWD) and rainbow trout fry syndrome (RTFS) and has emerged as one of the most significant bacterial pathogens in salmonid aquaculture in the Pacific Northwest and worldwide. This bacterium is especially problematic for restoration programs of native steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), coho salmon (O. kisutch), chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), and sockeye salmon (O. nerka) that are endangered and/or threatened species. Much research is being devoted to the development of an efficacious vaccine, since current disease prevention options are inconsistent and many times ineffective. Previous studies in our laboratory and others have suggested that the O-polysaccharide (O-PS) component of the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of F. psychrophilum is highly immunogenic and may have been involved in eliciting a protective immune response following challenge with F. psychrophilum. We proposed to test the protective efficacy of the O-PS of LPS conjugated to a carrier protein, however, recent findings in our laboratory suggest that the carbohydrate antigens referred to as high molecular mass LPS with O-PS are likely the repeating carbohydrate antigens of the glycocalyx of F. psychrophilum and not LPS. Therefore, we will re-direct our research to further characterize and determine the protective ability of the glycocalyx. Initial studies will involve sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of LPS preparations and western blotting to demonstrate the presence of and distinct differences between the LPS and glycocalyx. Passive immunization experiments will also be conducted using a monoclonal antibody specific for the glycocalyx to determine if antibodies specific for this antigen are protective in rainbow trout. If these antibodies provide protection against F. psychrophilum challenge, then methods to purify the glycocalyx will be examined in order to test the glycocalyx as a vaccine candidate antigen for the prevention of CWD and RTFS.

For more information, email the PI: Dr. Kenneth Cain

 August 7, 2012
Aug 072012
Former CRISSP graduate student, Chandalin Bennett, as shown in February 2007 at Lake Tahoe where she worked  for the University of Nevada at Reno before becoming the Monitoring Specialist in the State Forests Program for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Former CRISSP graduate student, Chandalin Bennett, as shown in February 2007 at Lake Tahoe where she worked for the University of Nevada at Reno before becoming the Monitoring Specialist in the State Forests Program
for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Title: Risk Assessment of Exotic Plant Pathogens
Student: Chandalin Bennet
Department: Forest Resources

Project Summary

Exotic plant pathogens have been the cause of many devastating disease epidemics in America’s forests and agriculture. Famous examples include chestnut blight and white pine blister rust, both cases of native plants showing catastrophic susceptibility to the pathogen of a congener. This project tries to understand this phenomenon of resistance and susceptibility to pathogens of congeners by performing host-range inoculation experiments using a speciose plant genus and multiple isolates of its most common pathogen.

The plant genus Salix (willows) was chosen as an ideal group for inoculation experiments because in North America there are over one hundred native species and are commonly host to a rust fungus in the genus Melampsora. Twenty-six different Salix species were inoculated in three separate experiments with isolates from different hosts of this pathogen. Results from these experiments show that in each case greater than 80% of the plants were resistant to the pathogen of a congener. Extreme susceptibility of congener species occurred in less than 5% of plants in each experiment. This susceptibility occurred at the greatest frequency in small Southwestern populations of Salix and to a lesser extent a few isolated Pacific Northwest populations. One of the Salix species that showed this extreme susceptibility was Salix arizonica, which just recently was taken off the endangered species list.

For more information, email the PI: Dr. George Newcombe

 August 7, 2012
Aug 072012

Kenneth CainAssociate Professor of Fish Pathology
Associate Director
Fishery Resources
Aquaculture Research Institute


(208) 885-7608


Dr. Kenneth Cain received a BS and MS in Fish and Wildlife from Michigan State University and a PhD in Animal Sciences from Washington State University. Ken’s research is focused on fish health and pathology. More specifically his primary research projects address fish immunology, aquaculture vaccine development, host-pathogen interactions, the development of new disease diagnostic tools, and antigen characterization/identification. In addition, Ken works in the area of aquaculture development for new species and is currently collaborating with the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho to develop captive rearing methods for Burbot (Lota lota). This species (a freshwater cod) is nearly extinct in Idaho and the methods developed at UI will be incorporated into a conservation aquaculture program to rehabilitate the remnant population in the Kootenai River. more info

CRISSP Research

A number of projects in my lab have investigated new and emerging diseases that create difficulties for species restoration. In some cases these pathogens can be considered invasive species if they are not endemic to this region. A good example of this is the parasite Myxobolus cerebralis, which causes whirling disease. The work that we are doing on vaccine development for coldwater disease also has implications for hatchery programs aimed at recovery of threatened steelhead and Coho salmon populations, as these species are very susceptible to this disease. Finally, the burbot program that has been ongoing since 2004 is directly related to CRISSP in that it is aimed at recovery of a small population in Idaho and is attempting to do this in lieu of listing this stock as an endangered species.

CRISSP Classes

(click on the links below for more information)

Fish 424: Fish Health Management

Fish 422: Concepts in Aquaculture

Fish 494: Seminar: Current Issues in Fish Health

 August 7, 2012