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Admin Officer

Ms Noxolo Mncwabe

Room 228

Rabie Saunders Building

Agriculture Campus

Pietermaritzburg

 

Tel:  +27 (0) 33 260 5526

Email: MncwabeN2@ukzn.ac.za


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About Plant Pathology
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. 

 

Control of plant diseases is crucial to the reliable production of food, and it provides significant reductions in agricultural use of land, water, fuel and other inputs. Plants in both natural and cultivated populations carry inherent disease resistance, but there are numerous examples of devastating plant disease impacts. However, disease control is reasonably successful for most crops.



Disease control is achieved by use of plants that have been bred for good resistance to many diseases, and by plant cultivation approaches such as crop rotation, use of pathogen-free seed, appropriate planting date and plant density, control of field moisture, and pesticide use. Across large regions and many crop species, it is estimated that diseases typically reduce plant yields by 10% every year in more developed settings, but yield loss to diseases often exceeds 20% in less developed settings. Continuing advances in the science of plant pathology are needed to improve disease control, and to keep up with changes in disease pressure caused by the ongoing evolution and movement of plant pathogens and by changes in agricultural practices. Plant diseases cause major economic losses for farmers worldwide. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates indeed that pests and diseases are responsible for about 25% of crop loss. To solve this issue, new methods are needed to detect diseases and pests early, such as novel sensors that detect plant odours and spectroscopy and biophotonics that are able to diagnostic plant health and metabolism.

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