Phytopathology – What it is, history and importance

Phytopathology (word from Greek Phyton = plant; Pathos = disease; Logos= study), or plant pathology, is the science that studies diseases, damages and changes in the normal functioning of plants, whatever their origin – be it animal, vegetable, parasitic or infectious-, covering all its stages , from diagnosis to treatment and control. Damage, alterations and diseases can be caused by insects or other animals, bacteria, viruses, fungi, climatic factors, parasitic plants, among other causes. Considering Phytopathology in its strict sense, the damage caused by insects and other animals (known as pests, in general) are studied in Zoology or Agricultural Entomology; while the rest, designated as diseases, are objects of study and analysis of Phytopathology.

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History of Phytopathology

Although the identification of plant diseases is quite old, since man began to develop agriculture for his survival, the development of Phytopathology as a science is recent. In the past, plant diseases and pests were seen as a supernatural phenomenon, of mystical and / or religious causes. The history of Phytopathology begins in this so-called “mystical period”, due to the lack of a logical and plausible explanation for the causes of diseases. As time went by, observers understood the phenomenon better and were able to elaborate a logical explanation: the physiological interactions of the plant with the pathogen is a dynamic process that can cause damage to even an entire plantation.

The importance of Phytopathology

The world population has been steadily increasing, and, along with it, concerns about the quantity and quality of the food produced. Consequently, it is necessary to think about the development of agriculture, which is directly linked to issues such as the climate, the influence of soils, pests, diseases, the development of technological advances, etc. Phytopathology is an essential science in this context, as it contributes to the development of agricultural production, being able to combat the problems caused by the appearance of diseases in plants, which are widely used in our food.

The development of plantations is directly linked to several problems (such as the damage caused by diseases, insects, mites, etc.) that need to be combated by man and by the technology created by him, so that food losses can be avoided. And the studies go even further: the knowledge proposes the genetic improvement of some species, which may lead to greater resistance to diseases.

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