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Hungry Planet: Stories of Plant Diseases

Chapter Nine. Student Resources

The World Belowground: Soilborne Pathogens

Healthy roots are a requirement for healthy plants. Many plant pathogens live in the soil, such as the fungus that causes Panama disease of bananas and the nematode (tiny roundworm) that causes soybean cyst disease.  Nematodes are the most numerous multicellular organisms on Earth, and some are very important pathogens of people and of plants. Sometimes, plants can create their own natural biological control against pathogens in the rhizosphere, the soil right around their roots. The understanding of soil microbiology also helps us protect groundwater from contamination by toxic chemicals that spill or leak into soil.

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