Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/5/2004
Publication Date: 11/15/2004
Citation: Lartey, R.T., Caesar, A.J. 2004. Emerging Concepts in Plant Health Management. In: Robert T. Lartey and Anthony J Caesar, editors. Research Signpost. pp. 300.
Technical Abstract: Our existence depends upon the health of plants as maintained both in agricultural practice and as natural resources providing raw material for human needs both locally and through global trade. Thus, the utilization of plants and the inputs for the maintenance of their health have impacts both globally and locally. Practices in managing plant health have consequences that require solutions that mitigate environmental impacts. The unrelenting increase in world population calls for judicious management of plant resources and advances in plant health management are imperative for the sustained ability to benefit from nature. Several diverse and apparently unrelated factors affect plant health beyond the organismal realm, including habitat destruction, pollution and economic and political changes. Successful management of plant health requires a greater diversity of research efforts and approaches than ever before. Efforts to maintain plant health have been evolving with increased understanding of plant ecology and physiology and the interactions of factors causing adverse effects on plant health. This book, "Emerging Concepts in Plant Disease Management" however, seeks to emphasize the exposition of emerging research initiatives with the potential to impact plant health management in the near future, with the further intention that the contributions are not without of some advocacy by the authors as to future directions needed. We therefore hope that the book will serve as a basis for discussion in the scientific community on such emerging ideas in plant health management as those covered in this volume. We have sought to depart from common practice in emphasizing to the contributors the breadth of the topic and the freedom to extrapolate and even be provocative to a greater degree than we feel is typical. We also sought in selecting authors to exceed the constraints or the ethos of a single discipline. That “groupthink” can occur is illustrated far too often in many parts of life. While many of the authors are trained in the field of plant pathology, they are working in areas beyond the boundaries of the host /pathogen “bitrophic” arena. It is our ultimate goal to encourage interdisciplinary efforts toward improving plant health. The authors had full control, in terms of content and length. Thus, the extent to which authors attained these aims was left to their solely in their hands. This volume includes human impacts on plant health, including discussions of the perceived threats of agriculture-related bioterrorism, and possible responses to the increasing need for research on management adapted for organic agriculture systems (which is an increasing proportion of the agricultural economy), and the utilization of agricultural waste that seeks to both reduce pollution while benefiting plant health. Effective management of plant health depends upon obtaining accurate data on the causal factors and mechanisms affecting plant health. Methodology adapted to deriving data ultimately leading to new management systems will need to include traditional methods and techniques adaptively deployed to achieve new aims. Tools for accurately documenting the nature of the problem include such traditional techniques as microscopy (light and electron) and molecular techniques. An example is the combined application of new methodology in light and electron microscopy to detect plant viruses as well as mycorrhizal fungi in plant tissues. An ever-expanding toolbox of molecular techniques has also improved speed and accuracy in the detection and identification of individual plant pathogens and complexes thereof. Descriptions of emerging modified PCR techniques are presented to demonstrate their potential in the future of plant health management. Understanding the ecology of plant pests and their antagonists has long been recognized as essen