College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Public Service and Agriculture; Research

Clemson researchers develop new online tool for managing plant diseases


CLEMSON – The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service has developed an innovative online tool that will help Extension agents and others identify and understand some of the most devastating plant diseases.

Clemson researchers have created the Photographics website to help growers with pest management.
Clemson researchers have created the Phytographics website to help explain various plant diseases and their control.

Madeline Dowling, a post-doctoral researcher from Easley working with Clemson professor and Extension plant pathologist Guido Schnabel, created, a website that uses photography and videography to explain various plant diseases including: Gray Mold on Strawberry, Strawberry Anthracnose Fruit Rot and Brown Rot of Stone Fruits.

“Many of the disease cycles used today are black and white drawings and often do not include the latest scientific information,” Dowling said. “We wanted to provide agents with new tools they can use to teach growers what they can do to protect their crops.”

While Phytographics was designed for Extension agents and specialists, there also is plenty of information for home gardeners.

Dowling used Adobe Portfolio software available to Clemson University students and faculty to create the website and Extension education materials.

Phytographics uses artwork to explain complex scientific topics. Time-lapse and slow-motion videography, photography, animation and illustration all combine to create material that is easily understood by a broad audience.

The website features high resolution images and time-lapse videos to show different stages of each disease and disease progression on the fruit itself. Narrated and animated videos not only explain the importance and content of the disease cycle but also discuss integrated disease management approaches. Information about other diseases will be added over time.

“This is a tool to promote Integrated Pest Management practices,” Schnabel said. “I am totally excited. This website has superb images and videos that growers can watch any time at their leisure. The quality is so good that watching it makes learning fun. I can see these tools being used in classrooms or in state production meetings as well.”

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is a process used for solving pest problems while minimizing risks to people and the environment. Dowling has a background in graphic design and was searching for a way to combine her love for art and for science.

“Dr. Schnabel is always encouraging us to use our talents and to do what we love,” she said. “This website makes science more visual and interesting through graphic design. It’s such a wonderful opportunity to support Clemson Extension educators and growers.”

In addition to programs found in the Adobe Creative Cloud software available to Clemson students and faculty, Dowling also used the new Adobe digital studio found in Clemson’s Cooper Library.

Clemson Extension Director Tom Dobbins applauds Dowling and Schnabel for their work.

“It is the goal of the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service to provide South Carolina residents with the most current research-based information,” Dobbins said. “This website will help ensure our agents and specialists do that.”

This project was supported by grants from the Southern IPM Center and the APS Foundation.


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