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MacDonald, William

Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology

William MacDonald’s research training and interests are in plant pathology with emphasis in forest pathology, particularly diseases of hardwoods. Previous doctoral and post-doctoral research at WVU was with vascular wilt diseases (Dutch elm disease and oak wilt). Current research is with the biological control of chestnut blight using transmissible hypovirulence, a phenomenon associated with fungal viruses (hypoviruses) that diminish the virulence of the chestnut blight fungus. These studies include examining the biology of virulent and hypovirulent strains to determine the factors that regulate the effectiveness of hypoviruses as biological control agents. Studies also now include combining the use of the hypovirulence phenomenon with chestnut trees that have been bred for increased resistance to chestnut blight thereby taking a two-pronged approach to blight control. Other research is with beech bark disease, a devastating disease of American beech that is caused by a fungus and scale insect complex. The goal of this research is to understand the ecological factors that influence the occurrence and severity of the disease.


  • F. Hebard, M. Double and W. MacDonald. A pathogen without rival. In Mighty Giants, An American Chestnut Anthology, Pages 171-177. C. Bolgiano and G. Novak, eds. The American Chestnut Foundation, Bennington, VT, 2008.
  • D. Short, M. Double, D. Nuss, C. Stauder, W. MacDonald and M. Kasson. Multilocus PCR assays elucidate vegetative incompatibility gene profiles of Cryphonectria in the United States. Applied Environmental Microbiology. Doi: 10.1128/AEM.00926, 2015.
  • M. Double and W. MacDonald (Eds.) Proceedings of the Fifth International Chestnut Symposium (Eds.) which included papers by both authors (International Society of Horticultural Science-ISHS Press, Leuven, Belgium), 2014.
  • J. Juzwik, D. Appel, S. Burke and W. MacDonald. Challenges and successes in managing oak wilt. Plant Disease 95:888-900, 2011.
  • J. Eggers, Y. Balci and W. MacDonald. Variation in Phytophthora cinnamoni isolates from oak forests in the eastern United States. Plant Disease 96:1608-1618, 2012.
  • D. McCann and W. MacDonald. A preliminary report of the ecological factors influencing incidence and severity of beech bark disease in the Applachians. In: Proceedings of the 18th Central Hardwood Conference. Morgantown, WV, 2012.
  • J. Juzwik, T. Harrington, W. MacDonald and D. Appel. The origin of Ceratocystis fagacearum , the oak wilt fungus. Annual Review Phytopathology 46:13-26, 2008.
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