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Introduction to Plant

AND environmental impact
Plant Disease:

Disturbance from plant pathogen or

environmental factor that interferes
with plant physiology

Causes changes in plant appearance or

yield loss
Disease results from:
• Direct damage to cells
• Toxins, growth regulators, or other by
products that affect metabolism
• Use of nutrients and water or
interference with their uptake
Host Factors

• All plants can be considered as hosts

• Degree of crop genetic uniformity
• Age – affects disease development
depending on plant-pathogen interaction
Environmental Factors
• Moisture
• Temperature
• Effect of human culture practice
– Monoculture
– Seed quality, disease residues,
rotation, alternate host
– Introduction of new pathogens
Pathogen Factors
• Amount of inoculum
• Pathogen genetics
• Virulence of the pathogen
• Type of reproduction
• Ecology and mode of spread
– Air
– Soil
– Seed
– Vector dependency
• Diverse and widespread
• Filamentous (hyphae) form a network of
mycelium (lots of hyphae)
• Recognized by reproductive structures
(mushrooms, rusts, etc.)
• Most of the 100,000 spp. are saprophytes
– Live on dead organic matter
• Approximately 8,000 species attack plants
– Plant pathogens
Fungal Diseases
• Reproduction by sexual and asexual means

• Spread through a variety of methods

– wind/water blown spores
– rhizomorphs
– Sclerotia (overwintering)

• Include organisms from Kingdom Protista, that are

now classified outside the Kingdom Fungi:
– Downy mildews
– Pythium
– Phytophthora
– Clubroots
Disease Symptoms
• Initially, similar to drought & starvation:

– Plants appear off-color

– Wilting and dieback occur later

– Younger plants usually killed rapidly

– Older plants decline over time (years)

– Roots have brownish streaks

• Prokaryotic microscopic organisms
– Free living single cells, or
– Filamentous colonies

• Reproduce via binary fission

– 2 daughter cells are identical to mother cell

• Usually do not produce resistant resting spores

– Need host or growth medium to survive

• For rapid spread, plant infecting bacteria usually

– Warmth and moist conditions
Bacterial Diseases
• Less common than fungal or viral diseases
• They can be either:
– parasites, saprophytes (live off dead material), or autotrophs
(photosynthesis or Chemosynthesis)
• Symptoms include:

– Cankers, Wilts, Shoot Blights, Leaf Spots,

Scabs, Soft Rots, & Galls

• Generally, cannot invade healthy tissue; need wound or

opening to infect.
Disease Symptoms
• Bacterial galls: In some cases, toxic materials are
produced that cause plant tissues of roots, stems
or leaves to grow abnormally as in crown gall.

• Bacterial leaf spot disease: The bacteria usually

enter through leaf stomata.

• Symptoms include water-soaking, slimy texture,

fishy or rotten odor, confined initially between leaf
veins resulting in discrete spots that have straight
sides and appear angular.
Disease symptom
Disease Development
• Infections occur through leaf scars and wounds. These
give rise to small cankers in which the bacteria survive

• Rain or water splash, and pruning tools spread the


• Bacteria survive in active cankers, in infected buds, and

on the surface of infected and healthy trees and weeds.
• Viruses are "submicroscopic" entities that infect
individual host plant cells.
• Viruses are obligate parasites: They can only
replicate themselves within a host's cell.
• In the virus infected plant, production of chlorophyll
may cease (chlorosis, necrosis)
• Cells may either grow and divide rapidly or may grow
very slowly and be unable to divide
Viral Diseases
• > 400 viruses infect plants; few are
economically important pathogens
• The infection remains forever
• Viruses are transmitted from plant to plant
by living factors: insects, mites, fungi and
• Or non-living factors: rubbing, abrasion or
other mechanical means (including grafting or
other forms of vegetative propagation)
• Occasionally transmitted in seed.
Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of most
virus diseases can be put
into four categories:
1. Lack of chlorophyll
formation in normally green

2. Stunting or other growth


3. Distortions

4. Necrotic areas or lesions


• Microscopic roundworms
– Barely visible with naked eye
– No segments
• Up to 4mm long
• Clear or transparent
• Feed with stylet
– Pierce plants (pests)
– Kill arthropods (beneficials)
Nematode Diseases
• Plant pathogenic nematodes = pests
– Infect roots & bulbs (below-ground)
– Foliar nematodes (above-ground)
– Also vectors of plant viruses
• As they feed, they weaken & stress plants – also
predispose to other problems
• Causes bulb & root decline, and root knots
• Spread by splashing water, and infested soil & plant
Disease Symptom
Root Nematodes
Shoot Nematodes
(Aphelenchoides spp.)

• Foliar nematodes feed inside leaves between major

veins causing chlorosis and necrosis.
• Injury is most often seen at the base of older foliage.
Environmental factors affecting build
up and spread of plant pathogens
• Moisture
• Temperature
• Soil pH
• Other
• Dispersal agents

• Activates resting stages

• Affects germination of spores and penetration into
• Water on leaves
• Humidity
• Splashing water distributes inoculum

Rainy, cloudy conditions = important for

spread and growth of many diseases
• Affects growth rates
• Some pathogens adapted to certain
temperature ranges
Soil pH
• specific requirements for many soil-
borne pathogens
Widespread planting of genetically
homogeneous crops can favor epidemic
Dispersal Agents
• Bacteria, fungi are limited in mobility,
need to be moved by:
• Water
• Wind
• People ----- machinery
• Insects
The End!
Any Questions?