Among the most serious challenges that agricultural production is facing is climate change. One particular worry, for both organic and conventional farmers, is that climate change may exacerbate the losses to crop production caused by plant diseases. Over the last few years, the relationship between plant diseases and climate change has therefore been subject to intensive research. In an article published this month in the journal European Journal of Plant Pathology, Thomas Döring of The Organic Research Centre joins an international team of scientists reviewing recent developments and findings with regard to the impacts effects of climate change on plant diseases. The review highlights the high complexity of interactions between a changing climate and plant diseases systems, e.g. through changes in both the timing of plant susceptibility and the life cycles of pathogens. A major conclusion of the article is that the inevitable uncertainty in our understanding of plant disease development under climate change calls for a diversity of management strategies. In particular, it is pointed out that we need to develop agricultural and forestry systems that can cope with change and to increase the integration of plant diversity in production systems as it buffers against the unpredicted or unpredictable alterations that pathosystems will experience in a changing climate.
Reference: Pautasso M, Döring TF, Garbelotto M, Pellis L Jeger MJ. 2012. Impacts of climate change on plant diseases – opinions and trends. European Journal of Plant Pathology. DOI 10.1007/s10658-012-9936-1.
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