University of California, Riverside

Mathews Lab


Deborah Mathews Lab Research

  • Diseases of ornamental crops
  • Improving detection of viral pathogens
  • Characterization of new viruses

My laboratory focuses primarily on the detection and characterization of virus and viroid diseases of ornamental and landscape plants as well as vegetables. I also have an interest in mixed infections and emerging diseases including those caused by other pathogen types such as bacteria and fungi. Ornamental plants in particular do not always express obvious symptoms, but can harbor viruses and viroids and act as a reservoir of the pathogens that can then be transmitted to other more susceptible crops where severe symptoms may result. Finding these “typhoid Marys” and eliminating them is part of my research specialty.

My Cooperative Extension program involves educating clients on how to avoid plant diseases in the first place by using hygiene, early detection and elimination of infection sources to reduce the establishment of pathogens. I train UCCE Master Gardeners in Riverside, Inyo/Mono, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties in basic Plant Pathology principles to aid in their outreach programs. I also work regularly with County based Farm Advisors throughout California to provide support for routine diagnostics and educational seminars. My lab is the only one in CA that is approved by the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for Avocado sunblotch viroid testing (see “Handouts” for more information) and I do all the testing for the UCR avocado breeding program as well as several growers and nurseries around the state.

Current Projects

  1. Elimination of viruses in recycled water using slow sand filtration
  2. Characterization of fern viruses
  3. Detection and characterization of viruses in the World Phytophthora Collection
  4. Incidence of multiple viruses in orchids
  5. Canopy dieback and tree decline of alders in southern California
  6. Susceptibility of palms to Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. canariensis and variability of the pathogen

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

OUR Site
2314 Webber Hall

Tel: (951) 827-3864