It is that preparedness for a possible agricultural bioterrorism attack and a detection system put into place by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Homeland Security that will allow for the rapid detection and diagnosis of a possible bio agent -- introduced either into a plant or an animal production system. That is the essence of a paper a Kansas State University professor is presenting today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle.
James Stack, a K-State associate professor of plant pathology, will present "Land Grant Universities Respond to Bioterrorism Threats to Crop Production" at a symposium on countering the potential for impact of biothreats to crops and livestock. Stack will address the implementation of the National Plant and Diagnostic Network established from an approximately $4.5 million grant from the Department of Homeland Security through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Under the network, the United States is divided into five regions -- each region delineated based on ecological considerations, plant criteria with respect to agriculture and natural plant systems. Within each region is a diagnostic center that serves as the hub for that region and is tied into a laboratory in each state assigned to that region. Kansas is assigned to the Great Plains region and K-State was selected as the site to establish the regional diagnostic center.
"In most literature it is referred to as the state triage lab," Stack said. "That's just a clearing house for samples that are submitted with problems."