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Advances in Crop Protection


Plant diseases remain one of the major constraints for crop production throughout the world. An essential element of this MSc module will be a critical appreciation of current problems and the strategies being deployed by researchers and practitioners to reduce disease incidence in different cropping systems. Understanding the biology of organisms that cause disease, developing novel methods to detect and discriminate pathogens and modelling their spread will give a systematic and critical appreciation of disease processes. Critical awareness of modern genetic and genomic technologies and their applications to pathology will enable students to evaluate contemporary advances in the field.

The module will illustrate how pathogen control methods are evolving from both traditional and emerging technologies in a continuous and dynamic process and it will build a knowledge-led view of how crop protection will develop in the 21st century.


After taking this module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles of plant pathology.
  • Be able to analyse the conflicting requirements of environmental and crop protection.
  • Understand the components of integrated control measures for optimal disease control.


  • Introduction: Course structure; Basic concepts: Symbiosis; Symptoms; Disease cycles; transmission; epidemiology.
  • Causes of disease: fungi and oomycetes, bacterial pathogens, viruses and viroids, abiotic diseases and post harvest quality (e.g. mycotoxins).
  • Pathogenesis: infection process and plant responses.
  • Pathogen detection and discrimination; from standard methods to developing technologies, high throughput, remote sensing.
  • Fungicide control; advances in trends in active ingredients, management of actives, conflicts of control and environment.
  • Quarantine and Cultural methods for control; current trends in disease avoidance, rotation, flooding, cultivation, environmental control (glasshouse).
  • Biological control; the process of development of a biocontrol agent (BCA) from discovery to commercialisation, registration and marketing.
  • Disease forecasting; modelling, prediction, population biology.
  • Plant pathogen interactions; identifying resistance, moving resistance genes, R-genes, avirulence genes, gene silencing.
  • Future developments: the role of pathology in modern growing systems, the future of integrated control, GM, bioterrorism; use of pathogens for molecular pharming.
  • Case studies, practicals and tutorials.