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  • Long Island Research & Extension Center
  • School of Integrative Plant Science
  • Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section
  • Plants
The practice of honoring individuals by incorporating their names into biological nomenclature has a long history.

There are species named after scientists like Charles Darwin (Geochelone nigra darwini) and figures in popular culture (Notiospathius johnlennoni). Dick Korf, who worked as a fungal taxonomist in Cornell's Plant Pathology Department from 1951-1992, may hold a Cornell record with 19 eponymous taxa.

Now there's a new eponymous taxon to join them! Hyaloperonospora daughtreyae, a species of downy mildew that affects cleomes, or spider flowers, was recently named after Margery Daughtrey, senior extension associate.

Daughtrey works at Cornell's Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, and she has been a member of the plant pathology and plant-microbe biology unit since 1978, which is now part of the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS). Her research focuses on improving disease management for pathogens that are problematic in greenhouses and nurseries in New York state.

Downy mildews are oomycetes, a phylum of fungus-like organisms that contain many important plant pathogens, and they are responsible for increasingly destructive diseases that affect ornamental plants. Effective disease diagnosis, monitoring and management all require the ability to clearly identify the pathogen species. However, this has proven difficult for many downy mildew species, given the complexities in phylogenetic analyses and pathogen variability, even within an individual plant.

In a study published on May 15 in the European Journal of Plant Pathology, Daughtrey and her co-authors reported the discovery of a new species of downy mildew in a cleome plant in Nassau County, New York. Through phylogenetic analysis, they successfully isolated and characterized sequences in the plant’s genome, which then revealed that the downy mildew isolate belonged to a distinct grouping in the genus Hyaloperonospora.

In their species definition, the authors wrote, "Dedicated to Margery L. Daughtrey, who collected the samples and has made significant contributions to the field of ornamental plant pathology, especially in the area of downy mildew diseases."

Daughtrey is a nationally recognized expert on diseases of a wide variety of ornamental plants, including impatiens, dogwood and boxwood. For more than 40 years, she has been researching and communicating disease management strategies, and she has described many new diseases. She has authored more than 800 extension publications, given talks to thousands of stakeholders around the world, and helped establish a certification program for the US geranium industry.

She served as the editor-in-chief for American Phytopathological Society (APS) Press and its affiliated publications from 2007-2012. Daughtrey was named an APS Fellow in 2012, and in 2014, she received the CALS Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Extension/Outreach by an Individual, which honored her long-standing and innovative work in floriculture plant pathology.

Magdalen Lindeberg is the assistant director for the School of Integrative Plant Science.

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