Plant disease epidemiology
Plant disease epidemiology studies the spatial and temporal dynamics as well as the ecology of the interaction between populations of plant pathogens, plant hosts, and the environment.
A better understanding of these interactions will lead to environmentally friendly and sustainable crop production systems, which are the key to food production. Understanding these interactions is the first step to adherence to the EU 'Sustainable Use' directive (often called the IPM directive).
We study pathogen populations and their interactions
We use modern, state-of-the-art methods to study pathogen populations and their interactions. Modern molecular tools that use markers based on the pathogen DNA have enabled studying them at a resolution that was not possible using older phenotying markers, such as morphoology or virulence to specific resistance genes.
We have focused on some of the main staple food crops grown in Sweden, such as potatoes and small grains, because these crops are a basic component of the food supply, but also because diseases in these crops are responsible for a large amount of pesticide use in Sweden. As a result, we are one of the leading European groups studying late blight of potato, as well as some of the rusts and leaf blights on small grains.
The population biology and structure of several pathogens are targeted, including:
- Phythophthora infestans on potato and tomato
- Alternaria in potato
- Several Puccinia species on small grains
- Several leaf spot and head blight pathogens on small grains
- Ralstonia and Xanthomonas in a tropical context
Some of the population interactions we study are:
- Resistance to fungicides
- How host plant resistance affects pathogen populations
- Effects of climate change on plant diseases
- Landscape level processes that affect plant disease development