Our First Introductions into OUTPACE 2015 by Ciara Duncan

Tuesday May 5th 

We began our journey into the OUTPACE 2015 summer program with a brief lecture on the background of plant pathology and very basic concepts relating to how plants can become infected with a pathogen.  Did you know that scientists only truly began to ask questions that would eventually begin modern pathology research due to the Irish Famine that occurred in the 1840s?  Phytophtera infestans became known as the causal agent of late potato blight and this discovery lead to many key discoveries in plant pathology.  As the 19th century came to an end, pathologists knew why plants became sick and began looking for and finding methods to prevent infections and save crops.  But we also learned that disease is the exception, not the rule!  Plants can and will defend themselves as soon as they recognize a pathogen!  We briefly described the situations in which a healthy plant becomes sickly due to a pathogen, and categorized pathogens as being necrotrophs, biotrophs, or hemibiotrophs.  With this overview on how plant pathology became a very important field in today’s world and some knowledge on what pathogens are and how they can infect plants, we are now ready to dive in to more in depth topics on plant pathogens!

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