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11 Emerging Plant Diseases What Are Our Best Strategies for Management Karen A Garrett Ari Jumpponen and Lorena Gomez Montano The impact of plant disease can be stark Famine can result if no systems are in place to replace lost crops Notorious famines precipitated by plant disease include the Irish potato famine of the 1840s due to potato late blight the Bengal famine of 1943 due to rice brown spot and famines in Uganda in the 1990s due to cassava mosaic disease Whole ecosystems can be altered when ecologically important plant species are decimated by invasive pathogens with which they have not coevolved For example the generalist pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi has wreaked havoc in Australian natural areas its relative Phytophthora ramorum threatens temperate forests worldwide and the eastern United States has been altered by the removal of native chestnut stands by Cryphonectria parasitica There are also many less dramatic diseases that produce a cumulative 10 reduction in crop yield Strange and Scott 2005 Savary et al 2006 While some parts of the world take food availability for granted the recent jump in food prices has brought new attention to food security and the factors that threaten it Our objective in this essay is to make readers more aware of the factors that drive emerging plant pathogens as a risk factor for food 152 Emerging Plant Diseases 153 security and for the biological integrity of natural areas We would also like to share some of the excitement of applied plant pathology a field in which scientists work with fascinating microbes worthy adversaries in work to protect agriculture and wildlands Consider the range of strategies that a country s plant pathologists are responsible for developing Some diseases are already established in areas where they potentially cause yield loss every year They may be costly to manage but management strategies are available For agricultural species resistance genes may be available for incorporation in breeding

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