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Plant Pathology

Plant Pathology

Dr. Jane Polston


Jane Polston bio picture


Phone: (352) 273-4627
Office: Rm. #1439, Fifield Hall
2550 Hull Road
Gainesville, FL, 32611




The goal of my research program is to elucidate the biology of and develop effective management strategies for Begomoviruses, whitefly-transmitted single-stranded DNA plant viruses. Begomoviruses negatively impact yields of important food crops throughout the world's tropics and subtropics.

  • Education

    Ph.D. Plant Pathology, University of California, 1988

    M.S. Plant Pathology, Virginia Tech, 1978

    B.S. Horticulture, Virginia Tech, 1976

  • Research

    Viral Plant Pathogens

    Dr. Polston conducts fundamental and applied research on the identification and management of emerging plant viruses. Florida is a state characterized by a wide diversity of crops that are subject to an influx of new viruses and virus-like pathogens each year. Successful management of plant viruses is dependent upon accurate and rapid diagnosis as well as relevant information on the biology of the virus. The Polston laboratory has projects in Virus Discovery, Virus Ecology, Viral Diagnostics and Resistance to Viruses. The Polston Laboratory identifies emerging viruses using molecular and biological approaches, documents the occurrence and importance of these viruses, develops or improves methods for their detection and discrimination, and uses the information from these as a basis to evaluate and develop new virus management strategies. In addition, the Polston Laboratory contributes to our understanding of more basic aspects of virology thought studies on the relationship between begomoviruses and their whitefly vector; molecular interactions between viruses, and generating new sources of resistance to viruses through genetic engineering.

    Dr. Polston’s research is primarily with viruses belonging to the family Geminiviridae, genus Begomovirus, the largest genus of viruses with more than 300 species. These viruses are transmitted by several species of whiteflies (formerly a single species known as Bemisia tabaci) to a wide range of vegetables, fiber and ornamental plants.

    In addition to research, the Polston Laboratory assists IFAS personnel in extension and public service through written and oral extension presentations, conducting diagnoses of samples submitted by growers, on-site visits, and by assisting county and state extension personnel and the UF Plant Diagnostic Clinic.

    Lab Members

    • Ms. Heather Capobianco, Biological Scientist
    • Ms. Fernanda Iruegas Bocardo, Visiting Scholar
    • Ms. Norsazilwati Saad, Ph.D. candidate
    • Ms. Warda Boukari, Ph.D. candidate
    • Mr. Ricardo Alcala, Ph.D. candidate
    • Ms. Sevgi Coskan, M.S. candidate
    • Ms. Camisha Alexis, Research Assistant and Undergraduate Thesis Scholar
    • Mr. Matthew Richmond, Research Assistant
  • Publications

    View a collection of my publications on Google Scholar

  • Teaching


    Dr. Polston teaches PLP4222C Introduction to Plant Virology and PLP6223C Viral Pathogens of Plants each spring semester. The objectives of the courses are to provide students with a working knowledge of plant viruses (their distinction from other molecular entities, their replication, ecology, etc…) as well experience in laboratory techniques for their detection.

    Dr. Polston supervises M.S., Ph.D. and D.P.M. students, DPM internships, and undergraduate honor’s research theses.

    Profiles of Plant Viruses and Viroids

    A project of PLP6223C “Viral Pathogens of Plants” a graduate class taught in the Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

    The profiles were composed by students in the class from 2011 to the present. Most of the profiles are in the form of a narrated presentation, designed and narrated by the student author.

    Each profile is designed to be an overview of a plant virus covering basics of particle and genome structure, replication, transmission, host range, detection and management.