Thursday, February 1, 2007
Climate change and its impact on plant pathogens
In addition to the direct impact on plants growing in both managed and natural ecosystems, a changing global climate change will affect the pathogens than cause diseases, reduction in productivity, and often death of their hosts. It is expected that changes in temperature, precipitation and other environmental factors will have both direct and indirect impacts on the host-pathogen interactions. These will be host and pathogen specific and it is not possible to make accurate predictions of a general nature. There are, however, numerous examples of how plant disease occurrence and spread appear to be closely tied to prevailing climatic factors and evidence that global climate change is already impacting the occurrence of some diseases. In the long term, one expects the increases in some diseases to be balanced out by decreases in others. Unfortunately, in managed ecosystems, the speed of climate change and the often long-growing cycle (e.g. forests) are likely to result in significant and difficult to manage economic losses for some crops before adjustments can be made. This presentation will provide an overview of what might be expected in regards to climate change and its impact on plant pathogens and the management of the diseases that they cause.
Stella M. Coakley is Professor and Associate Dean at the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University.