Plant virus control review paper published

ORC’s Thomas Döring reviews the potential and limitations of epidemiological approaches for virus control.

Plant virus diseases are among the most serious challenges that agricultural production faces, for both organic and conventional farmers. To help control virus diseases in crops, the scientific discipline of epidemiology uses complex modelling to establish which factors contribute most to virus spread in the field. In an article published last month in the journal Potato Research, Thomas Döring reviews the potential and limitations of epidemiological approaches for virus control, highlighting the notorious complexity of plant virus systems, which makes them often impenetrable even for advanced epidemiological models.

Therefore, as the review points out, a complementary approach is needed that acknowledges the partly indeterministic nature of these complex and evolving systems. Such an approach is the use of diversity, by combining virus control strategies that are complementary and that can jointly buffer against environmental changes. In addition, the paper demonstrates that to translate insights from plant virus epidemiology into practice, improvements need to be made in knowledge transfer, both within the scientific community and between researchers and practitioners. In particular, current dissemination is shown to concentrate too much on chemical treatments which have been shown to be insufficiently effective against plant viruses.

Reference: Döring TF. 2011. Potential and limitations of plant virus epidemiology: lessons from the Potato virus Y pathosystem. Potato Research 54: 341–354.

Keep up to date with ORC updates and fundraising appeals

Be the first to hear about the latest organic and agroecological research and get tips to improve your success with organic farming and land management with the ORC e-bulletin. Delivered to your inbox monthly.

Newsletter signup

By submitting this form, you’re agreeing for us to contact you by email about our research, knowledge exchange, policy support and fundraising. Your details will only be used by the Organic Research Centre in adherence with our Privacy Policy.

You’re free to change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting our friendly Supporters Team at