the big idea

Fighting a plant pandemic

THE DISEASE TRIANGLE

Plant disease requires three things to establish in a crop: a host susceptible to a pathogen, the presence of a harmful pathogen and the environmental conditions favorable for infection. Plant disease epidemiology is the study of how these three elements of the disease triangle interact to cause disease in plant populations across space and time. Read on for some of the tools Purdue scientists use to detect, quantify, analyze, predict and control plant pandemics.

plant disease triangle - host, evironment, pathogen
Tiffanna Ross working in lab

GENETIC TECHNIQUES

Tiffanna Ross (PhD ’22, botany & plant pathology) pipettes tar spot DNA; researchers are using a draft genome to understand tar spot’s interaction with the plant host. They’re also identifying chromosomes in corn that impart resistance to tar spot.

Tiffanna Ross working in lab

GENETIC TECHNIQUES

Tiffanna Ross (PhD ’22, botany & plant pathology) pipettes tar spot DNA; researchers are using a draft genome to understand tar spot’s interaction with the plant host. They’re also identifying chromosomes in corn that impart resistance to tar spot.

man with drone

DATA-DRIVEN SURVEILLANCE

Andrés Cruz, certified UAV pilot and lab technician, flies a surveillance drone. Combined with imagery, crop age and geolocation, drone data can help map how plant diseases behave.

Tractor plowing field

AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES

Practices like tilling and crop rotation can sometimes help manage pathogens.

man with drone

DATA-DRIVEN SURVEILLANCE

Andrés Cruz, certified UAV pilot and lab technician, flies a surveillance drone. Combined with imagery, crop age and geolocation, drone data can help map how plant diseases behave.

Tractor plowing field

AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES

Practices like tilling and crop rotation can sometimes help manage pathogens.

Woman looking through a microscope

Understanding pathogens & disease

Purdue experts advise growers on the right time and dosage when fungicides are necessary. Here, Assistant Professor Darcy Telenko applies fungicide to a test plot.

The fruiting body of the tar spot fungus produces the spores that can infect plant tissue.

FUNGICIDE

Purdue experts advise growers on the right time and dosage when fungicides are necessary. Here, Assistant Professor Darcy Telenko applies fungicide to a test plot.

Person in mask spraying fungicide
Space/time pyramid

Monitor these elements across space or time and you get a disease pyramid.

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