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.


Kandel, Y.R., Haudenshield, J., Srour, A.Y., Islam, K.T., Fakhoury, A.M., Santos, P., Wang, J,. Chilvers, M.I., Hartman, G., Malvick, D., Floyd, C.M., Mueller, D., Leandro, L. In press. Multi-laboratory comparison of quantitative PCR assays for detection and quantification of Fusarium virguliforme from soybean roots and soil. Phytopathology

Wang J., Chilvers, M.I. In press Submitted Jun 18, 2015. Development and characterization of microsatellite markers for Fusarium virguliforme and their transferability to clade 2 of the Fusarium solani species complex. Fungal Ecology

Olson, T.R., Gebreil, A., Micijevic, A., Bradley, C., Wise, K.A., Mueller, D.S., Chilvers, M.I., Mathew, F.M. 2015. Association of Diaporthe longicolla with black zone lines on mature soybean plants. Plant Health Progress doi:10.1094/PHP-RS-15-0020

Wang J., Jacobs, J.L., Byrne, J.M. Chilvers, M.I. 2015. Improved diagnosis and quantification of Fusarium virguliforme, causal agent of soybean sudden death syndrome. Phytopathology 105:378-387

Kandel, Y., Bradley, C., Wise, K., Chilvers, M., Tenuta, A., Davis. V., Esker, P., Smith, D., Licht, M., Mueller, D. 2015. Effect of glyphosate application on sudden death syndrome of glyphosate-resistant soybean under field conditions. Plant Disease 99:347-354

Wen, Z., Tan, R., Yuan, J., Bales, C., Du, W., Zhang, S., Chilvers, M.I., Schmidt, C., Song, Q., Cregan, P., Kull, L., Wang, D. 2014. Genome-wide association mapping of quantitative resistance to sudden death syndrome in soybean. BMC Genomics 15:809

Chilvers, M.I., Jones, S., Meleca, J., Peever, T., Pethybridge, S., Hay, F. 2014. Characterization of mating type genes supports the hypothesis that Stagonosporopsis chrysanthemi is homothallic and provides evidence that Stagonosporopsis tanaceti is heterothallic. Current Genetics. 60:295-302. DOI 10.1007/s00294-014-0435-0

Sikora, E.J., Allen, T.W., Wise, K.A., Chilvers M.I. et al. 2014. A coordinated effort to manage soybean rust in North America: a success story in soybean disease monitoring. Plant Disease (Featured Article). 98:864-875

Stewart, J.E., Andrew, M., Bao, X., Chilvers, M.I., Carris, L.M., Peever, T.L. 2013. Development and utility of sequence characterized amplified genomic regions (SCAR) for lower-level fungal systematics: Proof of principle using Alternaria, Ascochyta and Tilletia. Mycologia 105:1077-86.

Zhuang, X, McPhee, K.E., Coram, T.E., Peever, T.L., Chilvers, M.I. 2013. Development and characterization of 37 novel EST-SSR markers in Pisum sativum (Fabaceae). Applications in Plant Sciences 1(1):1200249

Zhuang, X, McPhee, K.E., Coram, T.E., Peever, T.L., Chilvers, M.I. 2012. Rapid transcriptome characterization and parsing of sequences in a non-model host-pathogen interaction; pea-Sclerotinia sclerotiorum. BMC Genomics 13:668

Akamatsu, H.O., Chilvers, M.I., Kaiser, W.J., Peever, T.L. 2012. Karyotype polymorphism and chromosomal rearrangement in populations of the phytopathogenic fungus, Ascochyta rabiei. Fungal Biology. 116:1119-1133

Peltier, A.J., Bradley, C.A., Chilvers, M.I., Malvick, D.K., Mueller, D.S., Wise, K.A., Esker, P.D. 2012. Biology, yield loss, and control of Sclerotinia stem rot of soybean. Journal of Integrated Pest Management. 3(2):B1-B7

Ozkilinc, H., Akamatsu, H. Abang, M., Thomas, K., Chilvers, M.I., Peever, T.L. 2011. Development, characterization and linkage analysis of microsatellite loci for the Ascochyta blight pathogen of faba bean, Didymella fabae. Journal of Microbiological Methods 87:128-130

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

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

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

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

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

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



Habibi, A., Peever, T., Chilvers, M., Kaiser, W., Muehlbauer, F. In press. First report of Ascochyta blight of spotted locoweed (Astragalus lentiginosus) in Idaho caused by Ascochyta sp. Plant Disease

Byrne A.M., Chilvers, M.I., Dietz, T.S., Johnson, K. 2015. Efficacy of foliar fungicides for brown spot in Michigan soybeans, 2014. Plant Disease Management Reports 9:FC026

Byrne A.M., Chilvers, M.I., Dietz, T.S., Johnson, K. 2015. Effect of fungicides on the performance of corn in Michigan, 2014. Plant Disease Management Reports 9:FC054

Byrne, A., Chilvers, M.I. 2015. Efficacy of foliar fungicides for white mold management in Michigan soybeans, 2014. Plant Disease Management Reports 9:FC055

Nagelkirk, M.L., Chilvers, M.I., Byrne, A.M. 2015. Effect of fungicides on the performance of winter wheat, 2014. Plant Disease Management Reports 9:CF028

Chilvers, M.I. Contributor/reviewer for: Michigan pesticide training manual

Mollov, D., Chilvers, M.I., and Jacobs J.L. 2014 First report of aster yellows phytoplasma in soybean in Michigan. Plant Disease 98:1578.1

Chilvers, M.I. Phytoplasmas. In: Compendium of Soybean Diseases. APS Press. Author for revised section. – submitted Apr-11-14.

Byrne A.M. and Chilvers, M.I. 2014. Efficacy of foliar fungicides for white mold control in soybeans in Michigan, 2013. Plant Disease Management Reports 8:FC174.

Byrne A.M., Chilvers, M.I., Serven, B.L. and Dietz, T.S. 2014. Foliar fungicide efficacy on brown spot of soybeans in Michigan, 2013. Plant Disease Management Reports 8:FC175.

Jacobs, J.L. and Chilvers, M.I. 2013. First report of Soybean vein necrosis virus on soybeans in Michigan. Plant Disease 97:1387.

Chilvers, M.I. and Serven, B.L. 2013. Foliar fungicide efficacy on brown spot of soybeans in Michigan, 2012. Plant Disease Management Reports 7:FC037.

Mueller, D., Wise, K., Dufalt, N., Bradley, C. and Chilvers, M.I. (Edited) 2013. Fungicides for Field Crops. APS Press. 120 pages. (Sold 14,341 copies in first 9 months, nearly ¾ of total APS sales per year)

Chilvers, M.I. 2012. Molecular diagnostics in plant disease diagnostic clinics…what’s the status? (Editorial) Fungal Genomics and Biology. 2:e102. doi:10.4172/2165-8056.1000e102

Chilvers, M.I., Warner, F.W., Jacobs, J.L. and Wang, J. 2012. Efficacy of nematicide and fungicide seed treatments for soybean cyst nematode and soybean sudden death syndrome in Michigan, 2011. Plant Disease Management Reports. 6:ST003

Chilvers, M.I., Jacobs, J.L. and Boyse, J.F. 2012 2012. Triazole foliar fungicide efficacy on Septoria brown spot in soybeans in Michigan, 2011. Plant Disease Management Reports. 6:FC026

Chilvers, MI., Zehr, G.L. and Munoz, J.D. 2011. Foliar fungicide efficacy on brown spot in soybeans in Michigan, 2010. Plant Disease Management Reports. 5:FC006.

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.

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.

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., 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.

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.