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.
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