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Chapter 81 : Aerobiology of Agricultural Pathogens
Although propagules of plant pathogens are dispersed by wind, rain, soil water, insects, and even humans, this chapter focuses on the airborne spread of those pathogens. In general, spores of most fungal pathogens are adapted for airborne transport; however, much of the aerobiological research on agricultural pathogens has focused on a limited number of fungi that cause economically important diseases. The chapter examines a few of the significant fungal pathogens that are dispersed by the aerobiological pathway. Today, rust fungi still remain among the most serious agricultural pathogens. The major vehicles for disease spread are the uredospores, which are easily carried by wind from one plant to another, giving rise to epidemics. The major dispersal agents of smut fungi are the asexual teliospores. The chapter talks about many plant pathogens that can propagate on hosts at various distances and can cause extensive damage and economic loss; thus, the focus on plant pathogens as anticrop weapons is understandable. The ultimate goal of forecasting is to reduce costly and environmentally hazardous pesticide applications during periods when disease occurrence is not likely. Aerobiological studies must be part of any effort to understand the distribution and epidemiology of agricultural pathogens that rely on air currents for dispersal.
Key Concept Ranking
- Tobacco mosaic virus
Global spread of soybean rust caused by Phakopsora pachyrhizi. Map supplied by Annalisa Ariatti, Department of Plant Pathology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa.
Major fungal pathogens with aerobiological dispersal
Examples of plant disease forecasting systems on the World Wide Web