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John Castello

John D. Castello

332 Illick Hall
1 Forestry Dr.
Syracuse, New York 13210

Phone: (315) 470-6789



General research interests include:

a) Assessment of forest health

b) The ecological impacts of beech bark disease in the northern hardwood forest

c) Viral ecology, especially viruses detected in trees, surface waters, and polar ice

Current Graduate Advisees

Jonathan CaleJonathan Cale

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Castello
  • Area of Study: Forest Pathology & Mycology
  • Undergraduate Institute: Paul Smiths College (Biology)

Graduate Research Topic
My research examines the role of host nutrition and physiological chemicals in the susceptibility of American beech trees to beech bark disease (BBD). The results of this study will be used to develop an alternative model of BBD in aftermath forests. Additionally, I'm involved with two studies using baseline mortality to examine the health of forests and tree species in the western US.

Justin WestJustin West

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Castello
  • Area of Study: Forest Pathology & Mycology

Graduate Research Topic
Beech Bark Disease, Forest Sustainability (Baseline Mortality)

Selected Publications

Mukherjee, S.S., Lough, T. Hopcroft, D.H., and Castello, J.D. 2012. New tombusviruses isolated from surface waters in New Zealand. Australasian Plant Pathology 41:79-84.

Cale, J.A., Letkowski, S.K, Teale, S.A., and Castello, J.D. 2011. Beech bark disease: an evaluation of the predisposition hypothesis in an aftermath forest. Forest Pathology: (doi:10.1111/j.1439-0329.2011.00722.x)

Castello, J.D., and Teale, S.A. (eds.) 2011. Forest Health: An Integrated Perspective. Cambridge University Press, London. 392p.

Teale, S.A., Letkowski, S.K., Matusick, G., Stehman, S.V., and Castello, J.D. 2009. Quantitative nondestructive assessment of beech scale (Hemiptera: Cryptococcidae) density using digital image analysis of wax masses. Environ-Entomol. 38(4): 1235-1240.

Zhang, G. Shoham, D. Gilichinsky, D. Davydov, S., Castello, J.D., Rogers, S.O. 2006. Evidence of influenza A virus in Siberian lake ice. J. Virology 80:12229-12235.

Castello, J.D., and Rogers, S.O. (Eds.) 2005. Life in Ancient Ice. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. (

Rogers, S.O., Starmer, W.T., and Castello, J.D. 2004. Recycling of pathogenic microbes through survival in ice. Medical Hypotheses 63: 773-777.

Smith, A.N., Skilling, D.E., Castello, J.D., and Rogers, S.O. 2004. Ice as a reservoir for pathogenic human viruses: specifically, caliciviruses, influenza viruses, and enteroviruses. Medical Hypotheses 63:560-566.

Rogers, S.O., Theraisnathan, V., Ma, L.J., Zhao, Y., Zhang., G., Shin, S.G., Castello, J.D., and Starmer, W.T. 2004. Comparisons of protocols to decontaminate environmental ice samples for biological and molecular examinations. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 70: 2540-2544.

Castello, J.D., Rogers, S.O., Bachand, G.D., Fillhart, R.C., Murray, J.S., Weidemann, K., Bachand, M., and Almond, M.A. 2000. Detection and partial characterization of tenuiviruses from black spruce. Plant Dis. 84: 143-147.

Bachand, G.D., and Castello, J.D.ã 2001. Immunolocalization of tomato mosaic tobamovirus in roots of red spruce seedlings. J. Phytopathology 149: 415-419.

Kopp, R.F., Castello, J.D., and Abrahamson, L.P. 1999. Viruses in Salix grown for bioenergy. Eur. J, For. Pathol. 29: 117-122.

Castello, J.D., Rogers, S.O., Starmer, W.T., Catranis, C.M., Ma, L., Bachand, G.D., Zhao, Y., and Smith, J.E. 1999. Detection of tomato mosaic tobamovirus RNA in ancient glacial ice. Polar Biology 22: 207-212.

Bachand, G.D. and Castello, J.D. 1998. Seasonal pattern of tomato mosaic virus infection and concentration in red spruce seedlings. Appl. Environ. Microbiol.64: 1436-1441.

Fillhart, R.C., Bachand, G.D., and Castello, J.D. 1998. Detection of infectious tobamoviruses in forest soils. Appl. Environ. Microbiol.64: 1430-1435.

Jacobi, V., Bachand, G.D., Hamelin, R.C., and Castello, J.D. 1998. Development of a multiplex immunocapture RT-PCR assay for detection and differentiation of tomato and tobacco mosaic tobamoviruses. J. Virol. Methods.74:167-178.

Fillhart, R.C., Bachand, G.D., and Castello, J.D. 1997. Airborne transmission of tomato mosaic tobamovirus and its occurrence in red spruce in the northeastern United States. Can. J. For. Res. 27:1176-1181.

Castello, J.D., Lakshman, D.K., Tavantzis, S.M., Rogers, S.O., Bachand, G.D., Jagels, R., Carlisle, J., and Liu, Y. 1995. Detection of infectious tomato mosaic virus in fog and clouds. Phytopathology 85:1409-1412.

Castello, J.D., Leopold, D.J., Smallidge, P.J. 1995. Pathogens, patterns, and processes in forest ecosystems. BioScience 45:16-24.

Castello, J.D., Wargo, P.M., Jacobi, V., Bachand, G.D., Tobi, D., and Rogers, M. 1995. Tomato mosaic virus infection of red spruce on Whiteface Mt., New York: Prevalence and potential impact. Can. J. For. Res. 25:1340-1345.

Abstract of Most Recent Publication

Mukherjee, S.S., Lough, T., Hopcroft, D.H., and Castello, J.D. 2012. New

Tombusviruses isolated from surface waters in New Zealand. Australasian

Plant Pathology 41:79-84.


Abstract Water samples from Turitea Creek and the Manawatu River near Palmerston North, New Zealand were assayed for infectious plant viruses. Twenty liter water samples each were prefiltered and v irions adsorbed onto electropositive Zeta Plus 50S membranes. Eluates were examined for virions by transmission electron microscopy . Icosahedral particles with a diameter of 30 nm with no distinct capsomere arrangement were observed. Two distinct tombus virus isolates were suspected based on symptoms in Vigna unguiculata. An A260/280 = 1.64, and a buoyant density in CsCl = 1.35 supported the conclusion that both isolates were tombusviruses. Maximum Parsimony trees generated f rom the deduced amino acid sequence of an 820 bp amplicon within the p33 (RdRp) gene and the entire capsid protein gene (1100 bp) showed maximum similarity of the isolates from Manawatu river and Turitea creek with Cucumber bulgarian latent virus (60% and 64%, respectively) in the p33 region, and with Maize necrotic streak virus (83%) and Cymbidium ringspot virus (76%), respectively , in the capsid protein region. In accordance with the species demarcation criteria of <87% sequence identity in the capsid protein amino acid sequences established by the ICTV, it is suggested that both isolates are new tombusviruses, for which we propose the names Turitea creek virus (TuCV) and Manawatu river virus (ManRV). This is the first report of tombus viruses in New Zealand.


Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to University of Bonn, January through June 1987.

J. William Fulbright Foundation Senior Scholar Award to Hort Research, Palmerston North, New Zealand, August through December, 2000.


Courses taught include:

Improve Your World
State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
1 Forestry Drive | Syracuse, NY 13210 | 315-470-6500
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