Montana State University

Jacobsen shares knowledge in Chile on Fulbright

December 9, 2011 -- Sepp Jannotta, MSU News Service


Barry Jacobsen, professor of plant pathology in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, was recently selected for a Fulbright Senior Specialist Award to bring his expertise in integrated pest management and biological control to Chile, where he taught and assisted in development of research at Austral University.   High-Res Available

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Barry Jacobsen, professor of plant pathology in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology, was recently selected for a Fulbright Senior Specialist Award to bring his expertise in integrated pest management and biological control to Chile, where he taught and assisted in the development of research at Austral University.

Jacobsen, a leading expert in the study of biological controls of plant pathogens, presented lectures to undergraduates on integrated pest management, biological control of plant disease and fungal toxins that affect food safety and animals. Jacobsen also presented workshops and seminars to graduate students and faculty in integrated pest management of potatoes diseases at an international workshop in Remehue.

In addition, he assisted Chile's Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA) -- the Chilean equivalent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- in developing a virus management program for their foundation seed potato program.

"This visit was very intense," Jacobsen said of his four-week Fulbright stay. "I taught what I teach at MSU over a semester, in just one month."

In addition, Jacobsen said he learned new methods to identify and utilize root colonizing bacteria that assist the plant in the uptake of phosphorous and nitrogen that would be otherwise unavailable. These same organisms could be isolated in Montana and used to make agricultural production more sustainable.

With a focus on collaborative short-run projects, the Fulbright Specialist Program promotes cooperation between academics and professionals in the United States and their counterparts overseas, according to the Fulbright Scholar Program's website. Fulbright specialists have visited more than 100 countries.

Being selected by Fulbright to teach in Chile reunited Jacobsen with a pair of former graduate students from MSU -- Ivette Acuna, a potato pathologist with INIA, and Ernesto Moya, a professor at Austral University.

The potato, Jacobsen pointed out, has an ancestral origin in Patagonia, with cultural anthropologists tracing the world's most frequently cultivated variety -- Solanum tuberosum tuberosumto -- to the Chilo Archipelago, where it predated the arrival of the Spanish explorers.

"Potatoes are a very important crop in Chile and Austral University has historically had a course in biological control and plant diseases," Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen said his connections with Moya and Acuna had brought him to Chile on two previous occasions to work on potato disease problems. Those prior trips have resulted in new ideas for management of potato diseases in Montana.

Jacobsen's research and teaching at MSU focuses on potato and sugarbeet diseases and development of biological controls.

Jacobsen said he was likely selected by the Fulbright commission and Chilean officials because of his work in integrated pest management and on the uses of biological controls for plant diseases and pests.

"I suspect I was chosen because of my body of work in biological control of plant pathogens and pioneering work on induced resistance with foliar applied bacilli," said Jacobsen, referring to the use of helpful bacteria to ward off potato pathogens like fungi.

From 1994 to 1996, Jacobsen was the USDA's first IPM coordinator. He also served as chair of the executive evaluation committee for the U.S. Agency for International Development's IPM Cooperative Support Research Program.

"That program is now active in 38 countries with a current budget of $12 million," Jacobsen said.
Despite having been invited to lecture across the U.S., Europe and India, Jacobsen said being selected by the Fulbright program is something special.

"The Fulbright Fellowship is quite an honor" Jacobsen said.

Sepp Jannotta, (406)994-7371, or seppjannotta@montana.edu