New pathologist to speak on disease research at Arkansas Rice Expo

July 12, 2011
Contact Information:

Yeshi Wamishe, Rice Research and Extension Center, Stuttgart. 870-673-2661,

Richard Cartwright, Cooperative Extension Service, Little Rock. 501-837-9643,

Howell Medders, Division of Agriculture Communications, 479-575-5647,

Download story
Yeshi Wamishe

Yeshi Wamishe is a new plant pathologist at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture's Rice Research and Extension Center.
(Click on image to download full-resolution version.)

STUTTGART, Ark. -- Visitors to the Arkansas Rice Expo at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture's Rice Research and Extension Center Aug. 4. will meet Yeshi Wamishe, a new assistant professor of plant pathology based at the rice center.

Wamishe earned the Ph.D. degree in plant pathology from the University of Arkansas in December 2002. Her doctoral research focused on genetic resistance to wheat diseases and she completed a post-doctoral project on rice sheath blight with Yulin Jia, a molecular plant pathologist at the USDA Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, next door to the Division of Agriculture center. She also held a post-doctoral position at Clemson University in South Carolina where she studied sudden oak death. Her B.S. and M.S. degrees are from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.

Wamishe started July 1 in the position held since 1996 by Professor Rick Cartwright, now associate director for agriculture and natural resources in the Cooperative Extension Service.

A major priority for rice disease research, Wamishe said, is bacterial panicle blight, which caused major damage in 2010 to many rice varieties in Arkansas, with yield losses in certain fields estimated to be 50 percent or more.

"We have a lot to learn about the panicle blight bacterium," Wamishe said. She will first study the bacterium to better understand its biology and then work with plant breeders on increasing resistance in future rice varieties, she said.

Wamishe and Cartwright will discuss rice diseases during a tour of research plots. At the same tour stop, plant breeder Karen Moldenhauer will discuss new rice varieties and lines in the breeding program.

"Genetic resistance is key to managing bacterial panicle blight. We can't control it with chemicals. We need varieties with durable resistance," Cartwright said. "Dr. Wamishe has an excellent background to work with our breeding program on this and other diseases," he added.

The Aug. 4 Rice Expo will open with registration at 9:30 a.m. Visitors can choose two from five tours, from 10 a.m. to noon, on:
-- Rice varieties, hybrid breeding, diseases;
-- Clearfield rotations, rice weeds, pigweed in soybeans;
-- Nitrogen management and environmental studies;
-- Soybean varieties and diseases, soybean and rice insects; or
-- USDA-ARS research.

Chuck Barrett, the "Voice of the Razorbacks," will be the lunch speaker. Activities include a trade show, equipment demonstrations and family and youth activities and booths with trap shooting, climbing wall, archery, ATV safety and more. Directions and a schedule are at