Plant pathology (also phytopathology) is the scientific study of diseases in plants caused by pathogens (infectious organisms) and environmental conditions (physiological factors). Organisms that cause infectious disease include fungi, oomycetes, bacteria, viruses, viroids, virus-like organisms, phytoplasmas, protozoa, nematodes and parasitic plants. Not included are ectoparasites like insects, mites, vertebrate, or other pests that affect plant health by consumption of plant tissues. Plant pathology also involves the study of pathogen identification, disease etiology, disease cycles, economic impact, plant disease epidemiology, plant disease resistance, how plant diseases affect humans and animals, pathosystem genetics, and management of plant diseases.
The fungi reproduce both sexually and asexually via the production of spores and other structures. Spores may be spread long distances by air or water, or they may be soil borne. Many soil inhabiting fungi are capable of living saprotrophically, carrying out the part of their life cycle in the soil. These are known as facultative saprotrophs.
Biotrophic fungal pathogens colonize living plant tissue and obtain nutrients from living host cells. Necrotrophic fungal pathogens infect and kill host tissue and extract nutrients from the dead host cells.
Apple scab fungus
(Crab apple tree)
- Fusarium spp. (causal agents of Fusarium wilt disease)
- Thielaviopsis spp. (causal agents of: canker rot, black root rot, Thielaviopsis root rot)
- Verticillium spp.
- Magnaporthe grisea (causal agent of blast of rice and gray leaf spot in turfgrasses)
- Sclerotinia sclerotiorum white mold
- Ustilago spp.
- Rhizoctonia spp.
- Phakospora pachyrhizi (causal agent of soybean rust)
- Puccinia spp. (causal agents of severe rusts of virtually all cereal grains and cultivated grasses)
- Armillaria spp. (the so-called honey fungus species, which are virulent pathogens of trees and produce edible mushrooms
Dutch elm disease
(American Elm tree)
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