Martin Chilvers, Ph.D.

Martin Chilvers
  • Assistant Professor
  • Center for Integrated Plant Systems
    578 Wilson, Rm. 104
    East Lansing, MI 48824
  • (517) 353-9967


B.Ag.Sci (Hons), University of Tasmania
Ph.D., University of Tasmania
Postdoc, Washington State University


General areas of expertise:

Fungal biology, epidemiology, fungal genetics, host-pathogen interactions, diseases of field and vegetable crops, nucleic methods of pathogen detection


Overview of current program:

Soybean sudden death syndrome (SDS) is caused by the fungus Fusarium virguliforme, and has potential to significantly reduce yields. The 2010 growing season saw unprecedented levels of SDS across Michigan and north central states. Observations indicate that SDS appears to be established in the lower half of Michigan and is moving north. SDS is a difficult disease to detect and monitor as it is soil borne and does not always produce distinctive foliar symptoms. In addition, foliar SDS symptoms can often be confused with other soybean diseases.  We are mapping the distribution of F. virguliforme in Michigan to county level and examining it’s interaction with the soybean cyst nematode (SCN) using a combination of molecular and culturing techniques. We are also developing and refining greenhouse screening techniques for SDS resistance in collaboration with MSU’s soybean breeder Dr. Dechun Wang.

Sclerotinia white mold, caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, is a devastating disease of many crop plants and can cause significant economic losses in pea under the appropriate environmental conditions. We are interested in dissecting the pea-Sclerotinia sclerotiorum interaction by examining the host and pathogen mRNA expression profile with next generation sequencing technology. Despite being Mendel’s model system, few genomic resources exist for pea. The expression profiling studies will provide valuable information on the genetics of the interaction between host and pathogen. Identification of genes and pathways involved in partial resistance will lead to a better understanding of the interaction and development of markers for breeding resistance to S. sclerotiorum. We envisage that these studies will lead to further insights and solutions for development of resistant material not only in pea but in other crops affected by Sclerotinia spp.

We have a strong interest in the development and more importantly application of molecular detection assays including high-through put systems and have worked on the development and application of several real-time PCR and standard PCR multiplex assays. My program is particularly interested in utilizing genomic resources and nuclide acid detection technologies to improve our understanding of fungal biology, disease etiology and epidemiology.

Extension and outreach activities:

Extension activities include participation in field days, annual meetings, publication of Field Crop Advisory Team ( alerts throughout the season as disease issues develop. As well as participation in the Legume ipmPIPE ( and Asian soybean rust ipmPIPE ( programs by providing disease observation data for Michigan and assisting with national commentary.


Chilvers, MI., Zehr, G.L. and Munoz, J.D. XXXX. Foliar fungicide efficacy on brown spot in soybeans in Michigan, 2010. Plant Disease Management Reports (Submitted November, 2010).

Chilvers, M.I. and Brown-Rytlewski, D.E. 2010. First report and confirmed distribution of soybean sudden death syndrome caused by Fusarium virguliforme in southern Michigan. Plant Disease 94:1164.

Akamatsu, H.O., Chilvers, M.I., Stewart, J.E. and Peever, T.L. 2010. Identification and function of a polyketide synthase gene responsible for 1,8-dihydroxynaphthalene-melanin pigment biosynthesis in Ascochyta rabiei. Current Genetics 56:349-360.

Frenkel, O., Peever T.L., Chilvers, M.I., Özkilinc, H., Can, C., Abbo, S., Shtienberg, D. and Sherman A. 2010. Ecological divergence of the fungal pathogen Didymella rabiei on sympatric wild and domesticated chickpea. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76:30-39.

Chilvers, M.I., Rogers, J.D., Dugan, F.M., Stewart, J.E., Chen, W. and Peever, T.L. 2009. Didymella pisi sp. nov., the teleomorph of Ascochyta pisi. Mycological Research 113:391-400.

Abang, M.M., Kabbabeh, S., Ahmed, S., Murad, S., Chilvers M.I., Peever, T.L., and Schroers, H.-J. 2009. First report of chickpea wilt caused by Clonostachys rhizophaga in Syria. Plant Disease 93:666.

Dugan, F.M., Akamatsu, H., Lupien, S.L., Chen, W., Chilvers, M.I., and Peever, T.L. 2009. Ascochyta blight of chickpea reduced 38% by application of Aureobasidium pullulans (anamorphic Dothioraceae, Dothideales) to post-harvest debris. Biocontrol Science and Technology 19:537-545.

Akamatsu, H.O., Chilvers, M.I. and Peever, T.L. 2008. First report of spring black stem and leaf spot of Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) in Washington state caused by Phoma medicaginis. Plant Disease 92:833.

Chilvers, M.I., Peever, T.L., Kaiser, W.J., Akamatsu, H., Chen, W., and Muehlbauer, F.J. 2007. Didymella rabiei ascospore release from chickpea debris in relation to weather variables in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology 29:365-371.

Chilvers, M.I., du Toit L.J., Akamatsu, H., and Peever, T.L. 2007. A real-time, quantitative PCR seed assay for Botrytis spp. that cause neck rot of onion. Plant Disease 91:599-608.

Chilvers, M.I., Horton, T.L., Peever, T.L., Kaiser, W.J., and Muehlbauer, F.J. 2007. First report of Ascochyta blight of Pisum elatius (wild pea) in the Republic of Georgia caused by Ascochyta pisi. Plant Disease 91:326.

Akamatsu, H.O., Grünwald, N.J., Chilvers, M.I., Porter, L.D., and Peever, T.L. 2007. Development of codominant simple sequence repeat, single nucleotide polymorphism and sequence characterized amplified region markers for the pea root rot pathogen, Aphanomyces euteiches. Journal of Microbiological Methods 71:82-86.

Frenkel O., Sherman, A., Shtienberg, D, Peever, T., Chilvers, M., and Abboa, S. 2007. Differential ecological requirements among sympatric populations of Didymella rabiei, infecting wild and domesticated Cicer spp. Phytoparasitica 35:214.

Chilvers, M.I., and du Toit L.J. 2006. Detection and identification of Botrytis species associated with neck rot, scape blight, and umbel blight of onion. Online. Plant Health Progress doi:10.1094/PHP-2006-1127-01-DG.

Chilvers, M.I., Horton, T.L., Peever, T.L., Kaiser, W.J., and Muehlbauer, F.J. 2006. First report of Ascochyta blight of Vicia hirsuta (Hairy tare) in the Republic of Georgia caused by Ascochyta sp. Plant Disease 90:1555.

Chérif, M., Chilvers, M.I., Akamatsu, H., Kaiser, W.J., and Peever, T.L. 2006. Cloning of the mating type locus from Ascochyta lentis (teleomorph: Didymella lentis) and development of a multiplex PCR mating assay for Ascochyta species. Current Genetics 50:203-215.

Hernandez-Bello, M.A., Chilvers, M.I., Akamatsu, H., and Peever, T.L.  2006. Host specificity of Ascochyta species infecting legumes of the Viciae and Cicerae tribes and pathogenicity of an interspecific hybrid. Phytopathology 96:1148-1156.

Chilvers, M.I., Hay, F.S., Hills, J., Dennis, J.J.C., and Wilson, C.R. 2006. Influence of benzimidazole fungicides on incidence of Botrytis allii infection of onion leaves and subsequent incidence of onion neck rot in storage in Tasmania, Australia. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 46:1661-1664.

Chilvers, M.I., Pethybridge, S.J. and Hay, F.S. 2004. Characterisation of Botrytis species associated with neck rot of onion in Australia. Australasian Plant Pathology 33:29-32.

Chilvers, M.I., Hay, F.S. and Wilson, C.R. 2004. Survey for Botrytis species associated with onion bulb rot in northern Tasmania, Australia. Australasian Plant Pathology 33:419-422.