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International Year of Plant Health 2020

LogoThe Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations have declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health

(IYPH) and have called for organisations to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.

Much of the research in the School of Life Sciences is aimed at improving crop productivity and combating pests and diseases while conserving the environment in order to feed an increasing population.

Each month, for the remainder of the year, we will be presenting a new article on this page to highlight some of this work that relates to IYPH 2020.


1. The arms race between plants and pathogenic fungi
A new race of the soilborne pathogen Fusarium oxysporum has emerged, which is affecting growers in the UK, causing lettuce plants to wilt and die.
Our work has identified multiple sources of resistance to this new race in old lettuce varieties and related wild species sourced from the UK Vegetable Genebank at Warwick. More information

2. SMARTPROTECT a thematic network for cross regional knowledge sharing of SMART IPM solutions for farmers & advisors.
The aim of this EU funded project is to stimulate knowledge flow in the regional AKISs (Agriculture Knowledge and Innovation Systems) across the EU and connect these on the innovative potential of advanced methodologies for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in vegetable production, integrating precision farming technologies and data analytics. More information

3. A new generation of plant disease resistances
Plants are in a constant battle against the different pathogens that attack them. Scientists and plant breeders have focussed much of their effort and resources on identifying single dominant (R) genes to provide resistance against plant pathogens.

Unfortunately, most R genes have a short lifespan in that they are only effective against a narrow spectrum of strains of the pathogens they target and the pathogens can rapidly mutate to overcome the resistances. More information

4. Keeping a watchful eye on pests
It is thought that, in the absence of control methods, crop losses due to pest insects might be in the order of 15-20% globally (Journal of Agricultural Science, Crop Losses to Pests, Feb 2006). However, pest numbers fluctuate considerably from place-to-place and year-to-year, as does the timing of pest infestations. To make best use of resources and minimise pesticide treatments it’s become increasingly important to know when certain pests are likely to infest individual crops. This may be through monitoring pest abundance on plants, trapping adult insects as they disperse, or by using previously-established relationships with weather conditions to predict when crops are at risk. More information

5. Next article - end August