Dr. Sajeewa Amaradasa joined IALR in 2018 as a plant pathologist. His research is focused on investigating beneficial plant bacterial endophytes to control economically important diseases of crops. Dr. Amaradasa’s work involves collecting crop–specific fungal plant pathogens important in Southern Virginia and screening them against IALR’s bacterial endophyte library to search for potential biocontrol agents. He is looking for endophytes that can either inhibit diseases or reduce the impact of fungal pathogens and promote plant growth and yield. Potential endophytes resulting from preliminary laboratory tests are taken to greenhouse and field trials. Dr. Amaradasa is also interested in controlling diseases in hydroponically grown crops. Currently he is conducting research to control Pythium and Fusarium wilt in hydroponic lettuce and spinach using biocontrol endophytes. Utilizing beneficial endophytes could lead to more sustainable agricultural systems with reduced use of pesticides and other inputs. Amaradasa earned his Ph.D. in phytopathology from Virginia Tech and has published his research work in several peer–reviewed journals.
- Molecular biology – PCR, RT-PCR, Phylogenetics, Bioinformatics, DNA fingerprinting techniques, development of molecular markers to identify fungal plant pathogens
- Plant Pathology – Pathogen isolation, identification, and characterization for pathogenicity and fungicide efficacy, in vitro and greenhouse screening of beneficial bacteria against plant pathogens
- Data analysis and interpretation – Whole genome sequence analysis, RNA-seq analysis, statistical analysis of laboratory, greenhouse and field data