The Aćimović lab is located at the Virginia Tech‘s Alson H. Smith Jr. Agricultural Research and Extension Center (AREC) in Winchester, VA. As a part of School of Plant and Environmental Sciences our program involves research and extension focused on diseases of fruit tree crops with emphasis on apple, peach and cherry. We investigate all components of the disease triangle: pathogen, plant, and the environment in order to better understand their interactions that serve as a necessary basis to develop new disease management strategies. In collaboration with Dr. Christopher Bergh (entomology) and Dr. Sherif Sherif (horticulture) at AREC, Aćimović lab provides rounded support to stakeholders addressing both scientific and practical aspects of insect, plant and disease management. Aćimović lab is conducting plant pathology research and extension addressing current and future challenges of fruit production such as emerging and endemic fruit tree pathogens, plant pathogen resistance to biocides, need for sustainable plant protection practices, and growing complications associated with climate change.
Some of the key foci of applied and basic research conducted in Aćimović lab are plant pathogen identification, detection and quantification, fungicide and bactericide efficacy trials in the field and in vitro, evaluation of management options for post-harvest apple pathogens, plant defense responses, and plant pathogen survival and population dynamics. Our goal is to investigate and understand plant pathogens that threaten the Virginia tree fruit and specialty crop industries and use new knowledge generated in this process to design, evaluate and deliver new tools for plant disease management. Our goal is to reach new knowledge in the areas of plant pathogen biology, epidemiology, and ecology that will serve as basis to improve existing disease prediction models, develop new management strategies, and allow more accurate and precise application of different control options thus securing high efficiency. Our program is designed to help growers maintain both the fruit quantity and quality while using disease management options that are environmentally friendly and at the same time acceptable for consumer markets. Finally, since every growing season is different, Aćimović Lab has an important role to provide valuable time sensitive and year-specific information on disease infection prediction and occurrence to the agricultural community. This site is one of many on-demand resources for plant protection information available from Virginia Tech.
An integral part of Aćimović lab mission and educational efforts is to train graduate students as future leaders in the disciplines of plant pathology, plant protection, plant-microbe interactions and plant pathogen resistant germplasm characterization, all of which are crucial career skill-set areas sought from plant specialists that will increase economic competitiveness of tree fruit production and food security in the U.S. and globally.