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Dominating North American Forest Pathology Issues of the 20th Century

August 2003 , Volume 93 , Number  8
Pages  1,039 - 1,040

William L. MacDonald

Division of Plant and Soil Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown 26506

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Accepted for publication 7 March 2003.

The profession of forest pathology evolved in the early decades of the 20th century from a science describing microorganisms that infect trees to a discipline that was required to deal with numerous disease outbreaks. The foundations of the science were carried from Europe to the “New World” and initially dealt with decay and the resource losses it caused. The profession was forced to shift direction quickly because it was called upon to address major diseases caused by the introduction of pathogens from other continents; notably organisms inciting chestnut blight, Dutch elm disease, and white pine blister rust. Changes in natural ecosystems that resulted from a legacy of poor forest practice, land abuse, and an increase in plantation monocultures gave rise to other disease problems when host-pathogen balances in natural ecosystems were disturbed. Further, the need for large numbers of tree seedlings resulted in numerous nursery disease problems. Although many of the principles of general plant pathology had application to the study of forest diseases, the long-term nature of forests requires varied approaches to their study and management. Today, the science continues to evolve as the complexities of forest ecosystems unfold.

© 2003 The American Phytopathological Society