Detection, spread and control of diseases in plants

Students need to understand that diseases caused by pathogens can affect plants as well as animals, and such diseases can result in devastating agricultural losses. They need to be able to explain how communicable diseases in plants are spread as well as the physical and chemical plant defence responses. Students must be able to describe the different ways plant diseases can be detected and identified , in the lad and in the field and how the spread of a disease may be reduced or prevented.

Students often fail to grasp the importance of plant disease, so it is important to deliver this topic area in context of plants as the primary producers within an ecosystem,and so any disease affecting plants will be seen throughout food chains and food webs.  In teaching about the physical and chemical responses plants have to disease it can be useful to compare this to the more familiar  defence mechanisms in humans. Misconceptions with this topic area can be similar to those seen within animal communicable diseases.  For example, they do not appreciate that there are different types of pathogens, bacteria and viruses. With this topic area it is important that students have sufficient knowledge about plant external and internal structures to be able to understand the defence mechanisms, so it is worth spending some time on this first. 

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