Rubber Research Institute of Sri Lanka

Ministry of Plantation Industries and Export Agriculture



Plant Pathology & Microbiology Department

 
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 microbiology and other microbiological applications in the most economical and environmentally sustainable manner.

Main research projects include screening of clones for disease resistance, screening of pesticides, development of integrated pest management systems, studying the 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.

Head, Plant Pathology & Microbiology Department

Mrs T H P S Fernando, BSc (SL), MPhil (SL), PhD  (SL)

Responsible in planning, implementation and monitoring of research projects on rubber pest & maladies of national interest and beneficial soil microbiological aspects. 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, Pesticide Technical & Advisory Committee (PeTAC) and the Pesticide sub-commette. Has received research grants from the National Research Council (NRC), National Science Foundation (NSF) & International Foundation for Science (IFS), Stockholm, Sweden.

 

Research Officer

Mrs M K R Silva, BSc Agric (SL), MSc  (SL)

Obtained a B.Sc. degree in Agriculture (Special) with a First Class (Honours) from University of Ruhuna (2005) and a M.Sc. degree in Molecular and Applied Microbiology from University of Peradeniya (2008). Joined RRISL in the year 2011 and currently reading for the Ph.D. from the University of Colombo. Has almost twelve years working experience in the field of Plant Pathology & Microbiology and currently, responsible in initiating, designing and carrying out of research projects on the pest and disease aspects of the rubber plantations.

  • T.H.P.S. Fernando- Award 1 – Year 2001 - Mycopathologia 152: 97-101. For the world’s first record of the toxic metabolite produced by Colletotrichumacutatum.
  • T.H.P.S. Fernando- Award 2 – Year 2001 - Mycological Research 105: 195 – 201. For the world’s first record of the cell wall degrading enzymes produced by Colletotrichumacutatum.
  • T.H.P.S. Fernando- Award 3 – Year 2000 - Mycological Research, 104: 518 – 685. For finding out the factors affecting spore production, germination and viability of Colletotrichumacutatum from Hevea brasiliensis.
  • T.H.P.S. Fernando- 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.
  • T.H.P.S. Fernando- Award 5 – Year 2004 - Mycopathologia, 157: 73 - 79. For the world’s first record of the cell wall degrading enzymes produced by Thanatephoruscucumeris.
  • T.H.P.S. Fernando- Award 6 – Year 2004 - Mycopathologia, 157: 81 - 85. For the first record of (Flacourtiainermis) as an alternative host for Colletotrichumacutatum.
  • T.H.P.S. Fernando- Best oral presentation in the Rubber Sector, 2nd Plantation Crops Symposium - 2008.
  • T.H.P.S. Fernando- Award for Excellence in Scientific Research – 2011” by the Young Scientists Forum – National Science and Technology Commission, Ministry of Technology & Research.
  • T.H.P.S. Fernando- “GRC Post Graduate Award 2012– Merit Award” by the Sri Lanka Association for the Advancement of Science (SLASS).
  • T.H.P.S. Fernando- Merit Certificate: for the Oral Presentation on the “Screening of clones against Corynespora Leaf Fall Diseases of Hevea brasiliensis” at the YSF Symposium 2012 held on 18th January 2013, by National Science and Technology Commission, Ministry of Technology & Research.
  • T.H.P.S. Fernando- Best Researcher Award – Rubber Sector for 2014 – 2015 at the Plantation Crop Symposium, 2016.
  • M.K.R. Silva - Second runner-up for the Outstanding Research Project in the 7th Annual Graduate Research Seminar – 2006, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna.
  • M.K.R. Silva - Meritorious Awards: DHE Mohotti Memorial Gold Medal for the Best Performance in Farm Practice Course (2004).
Identification of effective biological control agents against white root disease.
Solid and liquid based bio pesticides were formulated using the above bio control agents.
Antagonistic plants have been identified against white root disease.
Screening of clones against economically important foliar and stem 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. And contribution for the quarantine legislation.
Maintenance of a national level culture collection registered at the WFCC.
An improved repellent chemical was introduced against mammalian pests of rubber.
Revised recommendations for chemical controlling of White Root Disease.
Recommendations for the rehabilitation of White Root Disease patches.
Recommendations for the management of the new leaf fall disease caused by Colletotrichum and Pestalotiopsis.
Revision of the prophylactic fungicide recommendation against Phytophthora Bark rots.
Recommendation of substitute insecticide for the chemical controlling of Cockchafer Grub infestations.
Recommendation of chemical controlling systems for Brown Root Disease.
Revision of the chemical controlling for Nursery diseases.
The incidence of Corynespora leaf fall disease has been brought down to negligible levels as a result of intensive screening programmes.
The incidence of common canopy diseases caused by Oidium sp., Colletotrichum spp. and Phytophthora spp. has been restricted down to minimum levels through the identification of disease resistance /susceptible clones.
An integrated pest management system has been introduced against the cockchafer grub infestations. Imidocloprid has been introduced as a substitute insecticide, insect traps and agronomic practices to minimize the infestations have been developed.
An improved pesticide application technique: tree injection was introduced to make the chemical applications efficient and environmental friendly.
Effective biological control systems (consisting bacterial & fungal antagonistic agents and antagonistic plants) were developed to manage white root disease.
Effective biological control systems (consisting fungal antagonistic agents and antagonistic plants) were developed to manage brown root disease.
An effective chemical repellant was developed to manage mammalian pest attacks in rubber plantations.
Several disease conditions which may become increasingly important and their alternative hosts in non-traditional areas were discovered based on the continuous surveillance of the disease conditions and steps were taken to arrest the spread of these maladies.
A new microbiological protocol was introduced to obtain skeletonized rubber leaves to develop various decorative handicrafts.
A national level culture collection (registered with the WFCC) is maintained at the laboratory.
An interim management protocol was introduced against the newly introduced Pestalotiopsis Leaf Disease.
Upgrading of the laboratory was undertaken to suit present research programmes.
Introduction of a molecular plant pathology lab.
Screening of chemicals to control diseases and clones to identify disease resistant clones.
Studies on the biology and molecular biology of pests.
Studies on beneficial microbiology to explore methods to promote small scale cottage industries and to strengthen the microbiological testings.
Surveillance of potential pests and disease outbreaks to avoid unwanted sudden disease epidemics.
Advisory & Training Programmes.
 
Current Development Projects
 
Identification of the Potential Pest and Disease Problems of Rubber in Non-Traditional Areas.
Improvement of strategies to combat white root disease in rubber plantation.
Investigations on Biological Control Measures for White Root Disease of Rubber to Improve Integrated Disease Management Strategies.
  • 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.
  • Providing microbiological reports on rubber related products.
  • Providing sample testings for the pathogens of quarantine importance.
  • 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 - 2295540
  • 034 - 2247427
  • dirrri@sltnet.lk