What is plant pathology


Did you know that plants also suffer from diseases, fungi and more pathologies? That's it. Although, at least in our opinion, vegetables are unable to express themselves, Yes, we can distinguish healthy plants from sick or affected ones. There is a whole science devoted to studying the pathologies of plants: phytopathology.

In this article we are going to talk about the science called phytopathology, briefly explain what phytology is, and highlight the importance of these studies. If you are interested in the subject, I recommend reading on.


What is phytology

We must first clarify the meaning of the word. As you know, "pathology" means disease. But what is phytology? Basically It is the branch of biology that studies plants and vegetables, also known as botany. The studies carried out on plants cover all possible aspects related to them: classification, description, distribution, effects on the environment in which they are found, physiology, identification, morphology, interrelationships and with other living things, as well as their reproduction.

We can distinguish between them within botany pure and applied botany. In the first case, the goal is to expand our knowledge of nature. In terms of applied botanical research, these serve to improve agricultural, pharmaceutical and forestry technology. In addition, there are various branches in botany such as phytochemistry, phytography or plant pathology.

What is phytopathology

As we mentioned above, phytopathology, also known as plant pathology, It is science that diagnoses and controls plant diseases. It includes studies on infectious agents that attack plants as well as on physiological diseases or abiotic disorders. However, damage from herbivores such as mammals or insects is not part of the science of plant pathology. Experts estimate that plant diseases cause a 10% loss in food production worldwide.

There are two types of factors that can cause disease in plants: Biotic and abiotic. We'll comment on both of them below.

Biotic factors

When we talk about biotic factors, We refer to living organisms that affect an ecosystem. Plants can be affected as follows:

  • Different types of mushrooms
  • Prokaryotes (bacteria)
  • Viruses and Viroids
  • Nematodes
  • Protozoa
  • Parasitic Plants

All of these have the capacity to penetrate and diffuse into a plant host organism. If abiotic factors cause the phytopathology, it develops in a total of eight phases:

  1. Contamination: The infectious agent approaches the host plant.
  2. Penetration: It then penetrates the plant through healthy tissue, wounds, or natural openings.
  3. Infection: The pathogen comes into contact with the cells of the invading plant.
  4. Incubation: This is the time interval between infection and symptoms appear.
  5. Distribution: The infectious agent spreads to other plant tissues.
  6. Reproduction: The pathogen begins to multiply in the host plant.
  7. Distribution: New infectious agents spread in the medium to colonize other plants.
  8. To survive: These pathogens stay in the middle as long as the conditions are insufficient to infect a new host plant.

Abiotic factors

On the other hand, diseases in vegetables can also be caused by abiotic factors. Namely: For natural physical reasons such as floods or fires. Human activity also belongs to this group, one of the most important being pollution. So these are factors that do not directly attack the plant, if not its surroundings. In addition, in many cases they could be avoided if proper care was taken.

under the natural factors are the following:

  • drought
  • Freeze
  • Floods
  • Lack of nutrients
  • Excess soluble minerals
  • Deposition of salts
  • wind
  • Excessive or lack of lighting
  • Forest fires
  • Poisoning by various chemical agents

In terms of the factors that are involved human action We have these:

  • Soil compaction
  • Air and soil pollution
  • Herbicides
  • Lack of training for those handling the plants

What is the importance of plant pathology?

The importance of studies on plant diseases is crucial as this knowledge cannot be missing in agriculture. Usually, The pathologies affecting the plants reduce the harvest and degrade the quality of the product. However, it is possible to save the crop through correct identification and in time to control the pollutants.

Phytopathology is not only decisive at the agricultural level, Sectors and industries dependent on agriculture can also be affected. If not treated in a timely manner, plant diseases can cause economic losses that affect society as a whole and people's standard of living. Obviously, the losses depend on the type of product, the type of plant, the pollutant and the time it takes to diagnose it.

It cannot be denied that plant pathologies have succeeded in changing the habits of various populations, especially when abiotic factors are involved. What's more Thanks to them, new industries were created, including those that produce both machines and chemicals to control and prevent plant and plant diseases.


It has been known since ancient times that plants can get sick. However, they attributed these pathologies to supernatural powers, particularly the wrath of the gods. The first plant disease whose origin was discovered is tooth decay, also known as wheat blight, which is caused by the pathogen Tilletia caries.

Another strange fact is that Plant pathologists were the first to identify a virus. It's Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV). In addition, they invented the first fungicide to control phytopathology. It is the fungicide Bordeaux mixture which is basically a mixture of lime and copper sulfate.

I hope this article has been helpful and informative. We have to remember that it is everyone's job to take care of the earth and its people, including plants, since without them we could not continue to exist.