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Fungal Biology and Agriculture: Revisiting the Field

October 2003 , Volume 16 , Number  10
Pages  859 - 866

O. Yarden , 1 D. J. Ebbole , 2 S. Freeman , 3 R. J. Rodriguez , 4 and M. B. Dickman 5

1Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot 76100, Israel; 2Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Texas A&M University, College Station 77843-2132, U.S.A.; 3Department of Plant Pathology, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, P.O. Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel; 4United States Geological Survey, WFRC, 6505 NE 65th Street, Seattle, WA 98115, and Biology Department, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, U.S.A.; 5Department of Plant Pathology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln 68583-0722, U.S.A.

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Accepted 16 June 2003.

Plant pathology has made significant progress over the years, a process that involved overcoming a variety of conceptual and technological hurdles. Descriptive mycology and the advent of chemical plant-disease management have been followed by biochemical and physiological studies of fungi and their hosts. The later establishment of biochemical genetics along with the introduction of DNA-mediated transformation have set the stage for dissection of gene function and advances in our understanding of fungal cell biology and plant-fungus interactions. Currently, with the advent of high-throughput technologies, we have the capacity to acquire vast data sets that have direct relevance to the numerous subdisciplines within fungal biology and pathology. These data provide unique opportunities for basic research and for engineering solutions to important agricultural problems. However, we also are faced with the challenge of data organization and mining to analyze the relationships between fungal and plant genomes and to elucidate the physiological function of pertinent DNA sequences. We present our perspective of fungal biology and agriculture, including administrative and political challenges to plant protection research.

© 2003 The American Phytopathological Society