William Fry

Bill Fry


303B Plant Science Bldg
(607) 255-7863

My goals are to ameliorate the harmful effects of plant disease through both research and teaching. I have taught Introductory Plant Pathology to undergraduates in a relatively applied course, and to beginning graduate students in a more theoretical course. Additionally I have taught plant disease epidemiology to graduate students. My extension teaching has primarily involved the management of potato late blight and was stimulated by an urgent need during the 1990s to deal with a crisis caused by the presence of exotic strains of Phytophthora infestans (the pathogen causing potato late blight) throughout the United States. The exotic strains had characteristics that we had not previously seen, and growers needed information about how to respond. My research has investigated the basic biology and management of potato late blight and its pathogen, Phytophthora infestans. Initial activities emphasized disease management and epidemiology, to be followed by population genetics studies, genetics and now host pathogen interactions using genomics approaches. My laboratory is vertically organized going from very applied studies in the field to very theoretical ones in the laboratory.

Research Focus

My research emphasizes Phytophthora infestans and the diseases it causes. Topics range from epidemiology and management to population genetics, to molecular biology and genomics. Activities range from molecular manipulations in the lab to phenotypic assessments in the growth chamber, to epidemiological manipulations in the field. The most recent activities have been to characterize and investigate the implications of global migrations of P. infestans, adjusting a computer simulation model to reflect the pathogenicity characteristics of current populations of P. infestans, investigations to use the simulation model in connection with weather forecasts for "real time" decision making, gene profiling of host resistance in the field, analysis of candidate resistance genes via Virus Induced Gene Silencing in tomatoes, and investigation of viruses in P. infestans for molecular manipulation and as expression vectors in P. infestans for gene silencing/expression.

Outreach and Extension Focus

Although I have no formal extension responsibilities I have provided information and advice on management of potato and tomato late blight.

Teaching Focus

I currently teach Biology and Management of Plant Diseases. This is the introductory plant pathology course. It has three lectures and one laboratory meeting each week.

My teaching has historically included the epidemiology and management of plant diseases, but while heavily involved in college administration, I did very little classroom teaching. Recently I have taught the fungal and oomycete portions of "Biology of Plant Pathogens". The emphasis in that course was to illustrate concepts in host pathogen interactions with specific important oomycete and fungal plant pathogens.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications


  • Zalom, F. G., & Fry, W. E. (1992). Food, Crop Pests, and the Environment. p. 179 American Phytopathological Society Press, St. Paul, MN, USA.
  • Leonard, K. J., & Fry, W. E. (1988). Plant disease epidemiology. p. 377 Vol. 2 Genetics, Resistance, and Management McGraw Hill, New York, USA.
  • Leonard, K. J., & Fry, W. E. (1986). Plant disease epidemiology. p. 372 Vol. 1 Population Dynamics and Management Macmillan, New York, USA.
  • Fry, W. E. (1982). Principles of Plant Disease Management. p. 378 Academic Press, NY, USA.

Conference Proceedings

  • Restrepo, S., Smart, C. D., & Fry, W. E. (2004). Identification of genes differentially expressed during potato – Phytophthora infestans compatible interactions. Proceedings of the Phytophthora Molecular Genetics Workshop, Proceedings of the Phytophthora Molecular Genetics Workshop.