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Plants Get Sick, Too

Gail Ruhl, Purdue University
David TeBeest, University of Arkansas

Science is more often than not considered to be uninteresting and generally unrelated to the lives of the average American. Perhaps, a few Nobel laureates will be remembered for what they have accomplished in medicine, physics or chemistry. But plant pathologists, working in a very small science of their own, are often completely unknown to most people in America or elsewhere for that matter. After all, plant diseases are not really important. Or are they?

Plant Pathology: Past to PresentSeveral years ago, plant pathologists developed a story book entitled Plant Pathology: Past to Present in cooperation with the American Phytopathological Society to help people and young students, in particular, to understand the importance of plant diseases. The format of the story book uses Anton DeBary to lead students through the types of plant diseases that everyone can find and through the impacts that some diseases have had on human history. DeBary is the scientist who discovered the cause of late blight of potato, the disease that led to the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, and he is considered to be the "Father of Plant Pathology." The storybook is available in the Resource Catalog of the K-12 section of the APSnet Education Center and can be downloaded in English or Spanish and printed, if so desired.

An exciting new addition to the K-12 section of the Education Center is an interactive, colorized, audio version of the "Plant Pathology: Past to Present" storybook. Begin your adventure now as you download this new program:

Discover the importance of plant diseases. Join Heinrich Anton deBary, the "Father of Plant Pathology," on an historic journey and learn about plant diseases, what causes them and how plant pathologists control plant diseases. The web presentation requires the Macromedia Flash 6 plug-in to be installed.

Fusarium wilt of tomato is a common disease found throughout the world. The causal agent is a soilborne fungus called Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici. Click image for an enlarged view and more information..