Plant diseases cause economic threats to conventional and organic farming systems. Most of the infectious plant diseases have their characteristics mode of spread and symptoms. The understanding of these characteristics helps in possible control strategies; assess economic impact and the socio-economic consequences

Laboratory of Bio-Molecular Technology, Department of Botany, M. L. Sukhadia University,

Udaipur 313001, India e-mail: [email protected]

J.M. Merillon and K.G. Ramawat (eds.), Plant Defence: Biological Control, Progress in Biological Control 12, DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-1933-0_1, © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Fig. 1.1 World production and area under cultivation of staple crops

of their dissemination. Their effects range from mild symptoms to catastrophes in which large areas of food crops are destroyed. Fourteen crop plants provide the bulk of food for human consumption, which are likely to be infested from any of the major plant pathogens including viruses, bacteria, oomycetes, fungi, nematodes, and parasitic plants [1].

Human population is projected to grow at approximately 80 million per annum, increasing by 35% to 7.7 billion by 2020 [2]. With the ever-increasing population there is an increasing demand for food and fodder. According to the Production Estimates and Crop Assessment Division, Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA, 2002/2003) a comparative data of major staple crops production and total cultivated area over the world is presented in the Fig. 1.1 [3].

At least 10% of global food production is lost by plant diseases; either as yield loss or as quality loss, both are included in the concept of crop loss. Food shortage and the damage to the food production, caused by plant pathogens, results in undernourishment of roughly 826 million people in the world, of which 792 million people are in the developing world and 34 million in the developed world [4]. Although the ability to diagnose diseases and the technologies available for their control are far greater than in the past, it is necessary to accumulate loss data, including the importance of pests, key pests and their control for evaluating the efficacy of present crop protection practices [5]. A major portion of crop is also lost due to non-native crop species. Crop loss due to non-native species invasions in the six nations viz., United States, United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, India, and Brazil, is more than US$ 314 billion per year [6].

Although there is an extensive bibliography available regarding the biology, symptoms, distribution and crop losses by some pathogens, concise data on the mechanism of pathogenesis and their possible control measures are essential to interpret with present scenario of plant diseases. The present article is intended to overview plant pathogenesis and its control.

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