Venkateshwaran is an associate professor of crop physiology and molecular biology and the Soil and Crop Science Program coordinator at UW–Platteville. His research interests include plant-microbe symbioses, plant defense signaling, plant disease management, rhizosphere microbiome and sustainable agricultural practices. Venkateshwaran earned his PhD in plant pathology from UW–Madison.
Alfalfa is the most widely grown forage legume in the United States and is used for hay and silage. Although many cultivars that are grown in Wisconsin are relatively hardy, many are susceptible to root rot caused by the pathogen Aphanomyces euteiches. Aphanomyces root rot is difficult to control and currently, there are no effective management strategies to utilize once infection begins. However, natural pesticides are a promising control strategy for disease management. This project aims to investigate the use of essential oils as an antimicrobial treatment against A. euteiches infections. Six active components of plant essential oils will be studied for their effectiveness in controlling the pathogen at different concentrations. Proper dosing will ensure quality and a continuous supply of alfalfa hay and silage for Wisconsin dairy farms.