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Ned B. Klopfenstein

Ned B. Klopfenstein
Research Plant Pathologist
Forest and Woodland Ecosystems
1221 South Main Street
Moscow, ID 83843
United States
Current Research

My current research studies include molecular diagnostics (root pathogens, foliar pathogens, fungal endophytes, fungal decomposers) and evolutionary relationships among forest hosts and pathogens. My research also explores population genetics of forest hosts and pathogens, genetic relationships among forest hosts and pathogens in the northern hemisphere, the role of soil microflora in forest health, gene expression of forest pathogens causing disease, predicting potentially invasive pathogens, and influences of climate, disturbances, and other environmental factors on forest hosts, pathogens, and beneficial microbes.

Past Research

My earlier research included molecular genetics of Populus spp., especially related to plant defense.

Research Interest

My research interests are numerous, but include forest pathology, molecular diagnostics of forest microbes, population genetics of forest hosts and pathogens, phylogenetics of forest pathogens, predicting invasive forest pathogens, predicting climate-change impact on forest disease, environmental influences on genetic structure of forest hosts and pathogens, woody plant defense systems, host/parasite interactions, expression of pathogen genes related to disease, the role of soil microbes in forest health, and woody plant endophytes and symbioses.

Why This Research Is Important

Forest pathogens (the cause of forest disease) and other beneficial forest microbes are key regulators of the growth, sustainability, productivity, and carbon sequestration of forests. Forest disease causes more long-term damage to forest productivity than any other natural disturbance, but this damage is frequently attributed to other factors. Furthermore, severe threats from invasive pathogens and diseases related to climate change continue to rise, and information is needed to address these threats. Precise DNA-based identification of forest pathogens and beneficial microbes is essential to determine their distribution, ecological role, and predictions of future behavior (including invasiveness), so that appropriate management practices can be developed and/or applied. Further understanding the genetic-based interactions of pathogens, host trees, and the abiotic and biotic environment is critical to managing forest diseases and maintaining healthy, sustainable, and resilient forests in a changing environment.

  • Iowa State University, Ph.D., Plant Pathology, 1985
  • Iowa State University, Ames, IA, B.S., Biology, with a minor in Chemistry, 1976
Awards & Recognition
  • Certificate of Merit , 2012
    for contributions to the Civil Rights Committee as a lab representative
  • Award , 2012
    Co-recipient of RMRS Science You Can Use Bulletin Award for Range-wide Diversity of Western White Pine Populations (with Bryce Richardson and Marcus Warwell)
  • Certificate of Merit , 2011
    for contributions to the Civil Rights Committee as a lab representative
  • Certificate of Merit from the RMRS Civil Rights Committee , 2003
    for active leadership in Helping Orient Indian Students and Teachers to Science and Mathematics
  • Award from the RMRS Civil Rights Committee , 2000
    In appreciation for your outreach to Native American youth through the HOIST program
  • Spot award and certificate of appreciation, 1999
    participation in the Hantavirus cleanup, above and beyond the call of duty at the USDA Forest Service, Forestry Sciences Laboratory, Moscow, ID
  • Spot award , 1999
    contributions to an outreach program directed toward Native American high school students. The HOIST (Helping Orient Indian Students & Teachers to Science and Mathematics) program was sponsored by the University of Idaho
  • Cerificate of Appreciation from Tennessee State University, 1999
    for discussions with students and associated presentation on “Genetic studies in forest pathology and approaches toward understanding forest ecosystem processes"
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Understanding the Influence of Soil Microbial Communities on Forest Ecosystem Health

Year: 2016
Forest root diseases, such as Armillaria root disease, are among the most damaging forest diseases in the world and are extremely difficult to manage. New genetic technologies are being used to identify tens of thousands of soil microbes and their interactions with root pathogens and other environme...

Scientists Analyze Distribution and Genetic Diversity of the Invasive Brown Root-rot Pathogen

Year: 2016
The invasive brown root-rot pathogen is threatening many tree species in tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. Ongoing genetic analyses are determining similarities and differences among pathogens from different areas to better characterize the pathogen, determine potential pathways of spread, a...

Using DNA to correctly identify destructive vs. beneficial Armillaria fungus

Year: 2017
Species of the fungal genus Armillaria are associated with forest ecosystems worldwide. Some species are destructive root disease pathogens, while others are beneficial decomposers. Correct species identification is essential when assessing their threats. RMRS scientists are using DNA-based tools to...

DNA-based Analyses Provide Critical Insights Into Threats Posed by the Invasive Myrtle Rust Pathogen

Year: 2015
Using DNA-based studies, scientists have investigated the movement of myrtle rust, a pathogen that negatively impacts the health of various tree species worldwide.