Plant Pathology Department


Date of this Version



Published in Plant Disease / Vol. 82 No. 8. Copyright 1998. Used by permission.


The profession of plant pathology strives to improve the health and safety of the public through improved plant health systems. This includes the benefits afforded by well-managed urban landscapes and abundant food and fiber. However, the proud glow of the profession of plant pathology has dimmed over the past 20 years to the point that some members of the American Phytopathological Society (APS), the principal professional society of plant pathologists in the United States, are not sure what a plant pathologist should know or what a plant pathologist is responsible for (Phytopathology News 30:162). Without a unified, positive direction for the profession of plant pathology, we will see continued dissolution of academic plant pathology departments to departments such as microbiology, ecology, and plant science. We lament that the public doesn’t understand who we are, and we seek ways to change that public perception. Plant pathology can be divided into two major components: (i) the science of plant pathology, and (ii) the profession of plant pathology. The basic research discoveries that lead to the development of the scientific principles of plant pathology provide the foundation for the profession. The profession of plant pathology is the application of those scientific principles in production agriculture, forestry, and urban settings to benefit the public by safely reducing the negative impact of plant diseases.