Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka

Ministry of Plantation Industries



Plant Pathology & Microbiology Department

Our mission

To be the Centre for excellence in planning, implementation and management of research on all aspects of the maladies of the rubber plantations, improvement of beneficial soil microflora and microbiological applications in the most economical and environmentally sustainable manner.  

Main research projects include screening of clones for disease resistance, testing pesticides, development of integrated pest management system, biology and epidemiology of pests and surveillance of potential pathogens & disease out breaks, biological control of Hevea pests, improvement of beneficial soil microflora and related microbiological studies. And also the studies on the biology & molecular biological research on plant pathogens. The department undertakes training programmes on the identification and management of all the rubber diseases.

 

Principal Plant Pathologist

Dr. (Mrs.) T.H.P.S Fernando

Responsible in planning, implementation and monitoring of research projects on rubber pest and maladies of national interest. Obtained the BSc Degree (Biological Science) in 1996 and later in the year 2000, obtained the MPhill degree in Plant Pathology from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Has completed the PhD from the same University on the Corynespora leaf fall disease of rubber. Have published over 60 scientific publications & was honored by the GRC Post Graduate Award 2013 by the SLASS, Award for Excellence in Scientific Research 2011 by the YSF NASTEC, Ministry of Technology & Research and seven President's Research Awards for the effective contribution made to the reputation of the country. A member of several national level committees: National Plant Protection Commette - CARP, National Technical's Advisory Commette (PeTAC) and the Pesticide sub-commette. Has recieved research grants from the National Research Council, National Science Foundation & International Foundation for Science (IFS), Stockholm, Sweden.

 

Research Officer

Ms. Keshani Silva
 

Research Officer

Ms Samudra Nirmali Gunarathne

A B.Sc graduate in Agriculture Technology and Management, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Specialization in Plant Pathology and Microbiology. Post Graduate Studies with a M.Sc. in Molecular and Applied Microbiology from Post Graduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. Primary research interests lie in two different areas such as investigations of beneficial plant-soil-microbe interactions enhancing plant protection, and Molecular characterization of bacterial mechanisms in application of waste management and bioremediation. Have 04 research publications currently.

Principal Plant Pathologist  (OIC) Mrs. T.H.P. Sarojini Fernando. PhD. thpsfernando@yahoo.com
Current research interests Planning, implementation and monitoring of research projects on rubber pathogens and maladies of national interests to make recommendations on prevention and control of rubber diseases.
  Studies on economically important diseases: White root disease, Corynespora Leaf fall disease, Colletotrichum leaf Disease, Nursery Diseases.
  Screening of clones against economically important foliar diseases to identify disease resistant / susceptible clones and making recommendations.
  Screening of chemicals (fungicides and insecticides) against economically important diseases to identify effective chemicals to control diseases and making recommendations.
  Studies on the biology, molecular biology and epidemiology of economically important plant pathogens.
  Studies on beneficial soil micro-flora and other microbiological aspects.
  Preparation of scientific papers and reports of the national interest.
  Studies on the quarantine organisms to rubber tree.
  Maintenance of a national level culture collection registered at the WFCC.
Awards Presidential Awards for Research
  Award 1  –  Year 2001 - Mycopathologia 152: 97-101.  For the world’s first record of the toxic metabolite produced by Colletotrichum acutatum.
  Award 2  –  Year 2001  -   Mycological Research 105: 195 – 201.  For the world’s first record of the cell wall degrading enzymes produced by Colletotrichum acutatum.
  Award 3  –  Year 2000 - Mycological Research, 104: 518 – 685.  For finding out the factors affecting spore production, germination and viability of  Colletotrichum acutatum from Hevea brasiliensis.
  Award 4  –  Year 1999 - Mycopathologia, 143: 93 -95. For innovation of an internationally accepted simple and reliable technique for the identification of two Colletotrichum species causing Colletotrichum leaf disease of rubber.
  Award 5  –  Year 2004 - Mycopathologia, 157: 73 - 79.  For the world’s first record of the cell wall degrading enzymes produced by Thanatephorus cucumeris
  Award 6  –  Year 2004 - Mycopathologia, 157: 81 - 85.  For the first record of (Flacourtia inermis) as an alternative host for Colletotrichum acutatum.
  Best oral presentation in the Rubber Sector, 2nd Plantation Crops Symposium - 2008.
  Award for Excellence in Scientific Research – 2011” by the Young Scientists Forum – National Science and Technology Commission, Ministry of Technology & Research.
  “GRC Post Graduate Award 2012– Merit Award”  by the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLASS).
  Merit Certificate: for the Oral Presentation on the “Screening of clones against Corynespora Leaf Fall Diseaes of Hevea brasiliensis” at the YSF Symposium 2012 held on 18th January 2013, by National Science and Technology Commission, Ministry of Technology & Research.
  Best Researcher Award – Rubber Sector for 2014 – 2015 at the Plantation Crop Symposium, 2016.
National Level Committees
  • Serve the National Plant Protection  Commette of the Council for the Agricultural Research Policy
  • Serve the National Pesticide Technical’s Advisory Commette
  • Serve the Pesticide sub-commette
  • Services offered in Quarantine & Commodity Inspection to issue phyto-sanitary certificates for importation of plant materials from South American Leaf Blight endemic countries to Sri Lanka.

 

Research Officer  Mrs. M.K.R. Silva.   keshanisilva@yahoo.com
Current research interests Studies on economically important diseases: Brown root disease, White root disease, Phytophthora Leaf fall Disease, Phytophthora Bark Rot, Ustulina Stem Rot.
Awards  Meritorious Awards: DHE Mohotti Memorial Gold Medal for the Best Performance in Farm Practice Course (2004)
  Second runner-up for the Outstanding Research Project in the 7th  Annual Graduate Research Seminar – 2006, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna

 

Research Officer  Mrs. Samudra Nirmali  Gunarathne, samudragunarathne@yahoo.com
Current research interests

Studies on Molecular diagnostics of economically important  Rubber diseases

Biological control of diseases

Identification of beneficial microflora in soil and aquatic systems and their applications

Studies on bioremediation and biological waste water treatments

Awards  Award for best oral presentation in Annual Research Sessions 2012, Department of Agriculture Biology, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya,
  • Recommendation of disease resistant / susceptible clones for rubber cultivations. The incidence of Corynespora leaf fall disease was brought down to negligible levels as a result of intensive screening programs before recommending new clones for planting
  • All potential clones are screened against common canopy diseases caused by Oidium sp., Colletotrichum spp. and Phytophthora spp under laboratory, nursery and natural field conditions
  • Recommendations for the economically viable chemicals for the management of rubber pests
  • Recommendation of the integrated disease management systems for rubber diseases
  • Recommendations for improved application techniques – tree injection
  • Effective biological control systems have been developed to manage white root disease    
  • An effective chemical repellant has been developed to manage mammalian pest attacks in rubber plantations
  • New diseases and several alternative hosts for existing pathogens have been discovered and steps were taken to arrest the spread of these maladies.
  • Integrated pest management systems were introduced to prevent and control of the cockchafer grub infestations; a pest attack reached epidemic proportions during the recent past
  • A protocol was developed to obtain skelitanised rubber leaves using rubber serum through microbial process and various decorative handicrafts are produced from these leaves.
  • A national level culture collection is maintained at the Institution registered with the WFCC
  • Bacterial and fungal antagonistic fungi were identified t
  • Biology of economically important diseases to improve the knowledge on the life cycle characteristics
  • Surveillance of potential pathogens and disease outbreaks to avoid sudden epidemics.
  • Agronomic practices to minimize disease incidences and the severity levels.
  • To find a rapid technique to produce skelitenized rubber leaves and development of decorative handicrafts
  • Studies on exudation of latex below the collar region due to bark cracking
  • Identification of alternative hosts of economically important diseases of rubber
  • Identification of resistant gene marker for Corynespora leaf fall disease resistance
  • Genetic diversity of present populations of plant pathogens and  construction of a genomic libraries
  • Studies to identify beneficial soil micro-organisms distribution in main rubber growing areas and under different cover crops to find measures to rehabilitate the conditions
  • Studies on the effect of intensive agronomic practices on the distribution of beneficial micro-organisms in rubber growing soils
  • Screening of Hevea clones for leaf & panel diseases to identify disease susceptible / resistant clones: Powdery mildew / Colletotrichum leaf disease / Phytophthora leaf fall disease / Phytophthora bark rot / Corynespora leaf fall disease.
  • Screening of potential chemicals to identify efficient chemicals to control the diseases
  • White root disease / Brown root disease / Corynespora leaf fall disease / Colletotrichum leaf fall disease / Phytophthora diseases / Patch canker disease / Cochchafer grub attacks.

         Eg: Weedicide / fungicide / insecticide / fumigant application
         Manual weeding
         Cover crop type
         Fertilizer type etc.    

  • Effect of phenolic substances in cover crops on Rigidoporus microporus on white root diseases of rubber
  • Biological control of diseases
  • Eradication of white root disease in patches of young, mature and old clearings to increase the production and land use efficiency
  • Formulation of an effective repellent against rodents in rubber plantations
  • Poisoning of stumps to improve the method of cleaning of old stands during replanting
  • Studies on the bio-chemical nature of host-pathogen interactions
  • Induction of systemic resistance to Corynespora cassiicola
  • Publications in the field of rubber pathology
  • White root disease surveying programme
  • Conduct training programmes on Identification of economically important diseases of rubber (Leaf Diseases / Stem, branch and panel diseases / Root diseases)
  • Conduct training programmes on the Management of economically important diseases
  • Conduct training programmes on the identification and the management of nursery diseases
  • Advising the stakeholders to identify and manage diseases of rubber
  • Fernando THPS, Jayasinghe CK, Wijesundera RLC and Siriwardane D (2012) Some factors affecting in vitro production, germination and viability of conidia of Corynespora cassiicola from Hevea brasiliensis. Journal of the National Science Foundation. 40: 241-249
  • Fernando THPS, Jayasinghe CK, Wijesundera RLC and Siriwardane D (2010) Screening of fungicides against Corynespora leaf fall disease of rubber under nursery conditions. Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection.117 (3):, 117-121, 2010, ISSN 1861-3829.
  • Fernando THPS, Jayasinghe CK, Wijesundera RLC and Siriwardane D (2009) Variability of Heveaisolates of Corynespora cassiicola from Sri Lanka. Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection, 116 (3): 115-117, 2009, ISSN 1861-3829.
  • Fernando THPS, Jayasinghe CK, Wijesundera RLC, Silva WPK&Nishantha N (2009) Evaluation of screening methods against Corynespora leaf fall disease of rubber (Hevea brasiliensis). Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection. 117 (1): 24-29, 2010, ISSN 1861-3829.
  • Jayasinghe CK &Fernando THPS (2004) Re-identification and characterization of pathogens causing ugurassa (Flacoutia inermis) fruit anthracnose.  Mycopathologia, 157: 81-85.
  • Jayasinghe CK, Wijeratne, S.C.P. &Fernando THPS (2004).  Characterization of cell wall degrading enzymes of Thanatephorus cucumeris.  Mycopathologia, 157: 73-79.
  • Fernando THPS, Jayasinghe CK &Wijesundera RLC (2001) Cell wall degrading enzyme secretion by Colletotrchum acutatum, the causative fungus of secondary leaf fall of Hevea brasiliensis (rubber).  Mycological Research, 105 (2);195-201.
  • Fernando THPS, Jayasinghe CK &Wijesundera RLC (2000) Factors affecting spore production, germination and viability of Colletotrichum acutatum isolates from Hevea brasiliensis. Mycological Research, 104: 681-685.
  • Jayasinghe CK & Fernando THPS (2000). Toxic activity from liquid culture of Colletotrichum acutatum. Mycopathologia 152: 97-101.
  • Fernando THPS, Madushani HKI., Wijesundera RLC & Siriwardena D (2013) First Report of White Root disease of Artocarpus nobilis in Sri Lanka caused by Rigidoporus microporus. Journal of the National Science Foundation. 42(2): 197-198
  • Silva, M.K.R., Samarajeewa, P.K. and Senanayake, S.J.G.N., (2007). Microsatellite Marker Technique as a Molecular-aided Selection Tool in Rice (Oryza sativa) Breeding for Thrips (Stenchetothrips biformis) Resistance. Fourth Academic Sessions, University of Ruhuna, Matara, Sri Lanka.
  • Silva, M.K.R., Jayasinghe,C.K. and Tennakoon, B.I., (2014). Evaluation of the antagonistic effect of different plant species on White Root Disease causing fungus: Rigidoporus microporus. Fifth Symposium on Plantation Crop Research, Sri Lanka.
  • Silva, M.K.R., Abeysekera, A.S.K., Nugaliyadde, L. and Udayanga, D.G.E., (2008). An assessment of weedy-rice seed density in paddy soils in the Southern Sri Lanka. National Symposium, Faculty Of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna, Matara, Sri Lanka.
  • Darshana, K.V.W.S., Silva, M.K.R., Abeysekera, A.S.K.  and Nugaliyadde, L., (2007). Weedy Rice in Southern Sri Lanka: Abundance, Diversity and Farmer Awareness. 21stAsia Pacific Weed Science Conference, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  • Gunarathne, L.H.S.N., and Fernando, T.H.P.S. 2017. The potential use of plant growth promoting rhizobacteria( PGPR)  as antagonists and biocontrol agents in Hevea diseases. Proceedings of the International Forestry and Environment Symposium. 22: 17.
  • Gunarathne, L.H.S.N., and De Costa, D.M. 2013. Investigations on the Causes of Rice Grain Discoloration in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Journal of Agriculture.38: 233-239
  • Gunarathne, L.H.S.N., De Costa, D.M., and Dissanayake, D.M.N. 2013. Investigations on the Causes of Rice Grain Discoloration. PURSE.17: 165.

For Information

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Contact Info

  • Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka.
  • Dartonfield, Agalawatta. 12200
  • 034 - 2247426, 034 - 2247383
  • 034 - 2248459, 034 - 3439999
  • 034 - 2247427
  • dirrri@sltnet.lk