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Hungry Planet: Stories of Plant Diseases

Chapter Two. Student Resources

The Most Important Plant Pathogens: Fungi and Oomycetes

Fungi are amazing organisms with a cell structure and other characteristics that make them the closest living relatives to animals. Many fungi are beneficial (e.g., yeast, mycorrhizae), but others are well adapted to cause plant diseases. A group of funguslike organisms, the Oomycetes, also cause important plant diseases, including downy mildew of grape which nearly destroyed the French wine industry in the mid-1800s. Both fungi and funguslike organisms have evolved a wide variety of reproduction, dispersal, and survival mechanisms that aid their ability to cause plant disease epidemics.

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