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Forensic Phytopathology: a Critical Review

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  • Authors: Paul Bayman1, Luz M. Serrato-Díaz2
  • Editors: Raúl J. Cano3, Gary A. Toranzos4
    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico–Río Piedras, San Juan, PR 00931; 2: Department of Biology, University of Puerto Rico–Río Piedras, San Juan, PR 00931; 3: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA; 4: University of Puerto Rico–Rio Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Source: microbiolspec July 2016 vol. 4 no. 4 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.EMF-0008-2015
  • Received 19 December 2015 Accepted 18 February 2016 Published 29 July 2016
  • Paul Bayman, [email protected]
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  • Abstract:

    Forensic phytopathology is the application of plant pathology to legal or criminal matters. It is an emerging field. The existing literature focuses mainly on potential agricultural bioterrorism threats to the United States. Here we try to take a broader view including agricultural bioterrorism, mycoherbicide applications to eradicate plants used for illegal drugs, civil cases involving charges of sale or movement of diseased plants, and mycotoxins. In several of the examples given the evidence is inconclusive, but the examples are no less interesting for that.

  • Citation: Bayman P, Serrato-Díaz L. 2016. Forensic Phytopathology: a Critical Review. Microbiol Spectrum 4(4):EMF-0008-2015. doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.EMF-0008-2015.


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Forensic phytopathology is the application of plant pathology to legal or criminal matters. It is an emerging field. The existing literature focuses mainly on potential agricultural bioterrorism threats to the United States. Here we try to take a broader view including agricultural bioterrorism, mycoherbicide applications to eradicate plants used for illegal drugs, civil cases involving charges of sale or movement of diseased plants, and mycotoxins. In several of the examples given the evidence is inconclusive, but the examples are no less interesting for that.

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Two standard representations of plant diseases as an interaction between host, pathogen, and environment and, at right, time.

Source: microbiolspec July 2016 vol. 4 no. 4 doi:10.1128/microbiolspec.EMF-0008-2015
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