Special Issue "The Impact of Plant Disease on Food Security"

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A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2012)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. David Guest (Website)

Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, The University of Sydney, Biomedical Building C81, 1 Central Avenue, Australia Technology Park, Eveleigh, NSW 2015, Australia
Interests: plant-pathogen interactions; plant defence; phytoalexins, hypersensitive cell death; Phytophthora; integrated disease management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

As agriculture struggles to support the rapidly growing global population, plant disease reduces the production and quality of food, fibre and biofuel crops. Losses may be catastrophic or chronic, but on average account for 42% of the production of the six most important food crops. Losses due to postharvest disease can be disastrous, especially when farms are a long way from markets and infrastructure and supply chain practices are poor. Many postharvest pathogens also produce toxins that create serious health problems for consumers.
Farmers spend billions of dollars are on disease management, often without adequate technical support, resulting in poor disease control, pollution and harmful results. In addition, plant disease can devastate natural ecosystems, compounding environmental problems caused by habitat loss and poor land management.
Crop losses tend to be greatest in tropical countries where environmental conditions are particularly favourable, incomes are low and knowledge and investments in crop health management are minimal. Disease losses can mean that communities become dependent on imported foods, often replacing a balanced diet with processed foods that create further health problems.
Plant breeders have very successfully increased potential crop yields, however the impacts of crop breeding for resource-poor farmers have been disappointing. Much greater emphasis is required to address reasons for the gap between potential and actual yields achieved by farmers, and research that is focussed on narrowing this gap.
This issue is focused on research aimed at improving food security by reducing crop losses, particularly for low-income farmers. Manuscripts are invited that describe research into improving food security by reducing yield losses. Such research may include plant pathology, agronomy, entomology, weed science, farm management, improving resilience to abiotic constraints, postharvest handling, food safety, improved market access, the role of biotechnology, technology transfer, extension, education, policy and any other related topics.

Prof. Dr. David Guest
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • Plant disease, Crop losses
  • Food security
  • Postharvest disease, postharvest pathogens, toxins
  • Plant pathology, agronomy, entomology, weed science, farm management
  • Resilience to abiotic constraints, postharvest handling
  • Tropical countries, low-income farmers
  • Market access, technology transfer, education, policy

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Purification and Phytotoxic Analysis of Botrytis cinerea Virulence Factors: New Avenues for Crop Protection
Agriculture 2012, 2(3), 154-164; doi:10.3390/agriculture2030154
Received: 29 April 2012 / Revised: 18 June 2012 / Accepted: 4 July 2012 / Published: 10 July 2012
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Abstract
Botrytis cinerea is a necrotrophic fungus infecting over 230 plant species worldwide. This highly adaptable pathogen can afflict agricultural products from seed to storage, causing significant economic losses and instability in the food supply. Small protein virulence factors secreted by B. cinerea [...] Read more.
Botrytis cinerea is a necrotrophic fungus infecting over 230 plant species worldwide. This highly adaptable pathogen can afflict agricultural products from seed to storage, causing significant economic losses and instability in the food supply. Small protein virulence factors secreted by B. cinerea during infection play an important role in initiation and spread of disease. BcSnod1 was found to be abundantly expressed upon exposure to media containing strawberry extract. From sequence similarity, BcSnod2 was also identified and both were recognized as members of the Ceratoplatanin family of small phytotoxic proteins. Recombinant BcSnod1 was shown to have a phytotoxic effect and play an important role in pathogenicity while the role of BcSnod2 remains less clear. Both bacterial and yeast production systems are reported, though the bacterial protein is less toxic and mostly unfolded relative to that made in yeast. Compared to BcSnod1, recombinant bacterial BcSnod2 shows similar, but delayed phytotoxicity on tomato leaves. Further studies of these critical virulence factors and their inhibition promise to provide new avenues for crop protection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Plant Disease on Food Security)
Open AccessArticle Use of Biofungicides for Controlling Plant Diseases to Improve Food Availability
Agriculture 2012, 2(2), 109-124; doi:10.3390/agriculture2020109
Received: 29 March 2012 / Revised: 7 May 2012 / Accepted: 11 May 2012 / Published: 21 May 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (378 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Biological control of fungal plant pathogens can improve global food availability, one of the three pillars of food security, by reducing crop losses, particularly for low-income farmers. However, the interrelationships of many environmental variables can result in multiple interactions among the organisms [...] Read more.
Biological control of fungal plant pathogens can improve global food availability, one of the three pillars of food security, by reducing crop losses, particularly for low-income farmers. However, the interrelationships of many environmental variables can result in multiple interactions among the organisms and their environment, several of which might contribute to effective biological control. Here, we present an advanced survey of the nature and practice of biological control when it is used to control brown rot in stone fruit. Specifically, we describe the population dynamics of Penicillium frequentans and Epicoccum nigrum and their efficacy as biocontrol agents against brown rot disease under field conditions. The size of P. frequentans population after an application of a P. frequentans conidial formulation during the crop season is bigger than that of E. nigrum following the application of an E. nigrum conidial formulation. Moreover, applications of a P. frequentans conidial formulation during the crop season also caused a higher reduction in the number of Monilinia spp. conidia on the fruit surface than that found after applications of an E. nigrum formulation during the growing season. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Plant Disease on Food Security)

Review

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Open AccessReview Taro Leaf Blight—A Threat to Food Security
Agriculture 2012, 2(3), 182-203; doi:10.3390/agriculture2030182
Received: 23 May 2012 / Revised: 15 June 2012 / Accepted: 4 July 2012 / Published: 16 July 2012
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (822 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Taro leaf blight (caused by the Oomycete Phytophthora colocasiae) is a disease of major importance in many regions of the world where taro is grown. Serious outbreaks of taro leaf blight in Samoa in 1993 and in the last few years [...] Read more.
Taro leaf blight (caused by the Oomycete Phytophthora colocasiae) is a disease of major importance in many regions of the world where taro is grown. Serious outbreaks of taro leaf blight in Samoa in 1993 and in the last few years in Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria continue to demonstrate the devastating impact of this disease on the livelihoods and food security of small farmers and rural communities dependent on the crop. The spread of the disease to new geographical areas also poses a major threat to neighbouring countries and taro growing regions still free from the disease. Past research, particularly in the Pacific, has demonstrated that management measures such as chemical and cultural control are largely ineffective and that breeding for disease resistance is the most sustainable approach to manage the disease. Recently, the Pacific and South-east Asian regional taro networks have made excellent progress in developing cultivars resistant to taro leaf blight through enhanced utilization of taro genetic resources and close collaboration between farmers and researchers in breeding programs. These programs have secured vital taro genetic resources for future use. This paper provides an overview of the disease, its origin, distribution, biology, epidemiology, management and global impact. The paper will largely focus on breeding strategies to address the disease including challenges, opportunities and constraints. It also discusses how these breeding experiences and outputs can be scaled up to other geographical areas where the disease has been recently introduced or under threat of introduction. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Plant Disease on Food Security)
Open AccessReview Photosynthesis and Yellow Vine Syndrome of American Cranberry
Agriculture 2012, 2(2), 125-138; doi:10.3390/agriculture2020125
Received: 23 April 2012 / Revised: 1 June 2012 / Accepted: 2 June 2012 / Published: 7 June 2012
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Abstract
The American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) contains rich antioxidants and has significant health benefits in fighting a variety of human diseases. In the past ten years, cranberry growers have reported yellow vine syndrome, which is associated with reduced photosynthetic performance, [...] Read more.
The American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) contains rich antioxidants and has significant health benefits in fighting a variety of human diseases. In the past ten years, cranberry growers have reported yellow vine syndrome, which is associated with reduced photosynthetic performance, in the cranberry bogs. It has been found that the yellow vine syndrome of cranberry is associated with nutritional imbalance; it might be an issue for cranberry quality and food security as well as the crop production. This review evaluates the present state of knowledge of yellow vine syndrome, together with recent advances that are resulting from an improved mechanistic understanding and a possible solution that will be of considerable value to cranberry growers. This review also includes results from the author’s own laboratory. Water stress, nutritional imbalance, and photoinhibition are the likely reasons for producing yellow vine of cranberry. Future endeavors should be placed on the combination of genetic, biochemical, and biophysical techniques at the molecular level and plant physiology at the field and greenhouse level. This may provide specific information in order to understand the molecular details of yellow vine of cranberry as well as a tool for guiding future breeding efforts and management practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Plant Disease on Food Security)
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Other

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Open AccessConcept Paper Nonstop Selection for High and Stable Crop Yield by Two Prognostic Equations to Reduce Yield Losses
Agriculture 2012, 2(3), 211-227; doi:10.3390/agriculture2030211
Received: 18 June 2012 / Revised: 21 August 2012 / Accepted: 23 August 2012 / Published: 7 September 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (276 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Yield losses occurring at the field level, whether due to plant diseases or abiotic stresses, reveal reduced stability of the crop yield potential. The paper argues that the stability of crop yield potential is a trait with a clear genetic component, which [...] Read more.
Yield losses occurring at the field level, whether due to plant diseases or abiotic stresses, reveal reduced stability of the crop yield potential. The paper argues that the stability of crop yield potential is a trait with a clear genetic component, which can be successfully selected for at the single-plant level and incorporated into high-yielding cultivars. Two novel selection equations with prognostic power are presented, capable to objectively phenotype and evaluate individual plants in real field conditions in the absence of the masking effects of interplant competition and soil heterogeneity. The equations predict performance at the crop stand through the key concept of coefficient of homeostasis and are equally useful for early generation selection and for nonstop selection within finished cultivars in order to continuously incorporate the adaptive (genetic or epigenetic) responses of plants. Exploitation of adaptive responses acquires particular importance in view of the climate change effects on crop productivity and the changing biotic or abiotic micro-environments. Cotton is used as a case study to highlight the potential of nonstop selection for increasing crop yield and for the gradual build-up of disease resistance. In addition, the paper envisions and proposes the formation of international networks of researchers focusing on specific diseases as, for example, the cereal root-rot or the cotton Verticillium wilt that will concurrently use the proposed strategy in their respective environments to select for resistant genotypes, while gaining a deeper understanding of the nature of the genetic or epigenetic changes at the phenotypic and genomic levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Plant Disease on Food Security)

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