CHALLENGES TO PLANT PATHOLOGY RESEARCH IN A CHANGING GLOBAL SEED HEALTH SYSTEM
Seed Science Center and Department of Plant Pathology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA
Backgound and objectives
Since its emergence as a subdiscipline of plant pathology from seed quality testing in the early 20th century, seed pathology research has focused on detection of seedborne microorganisms and development of seed health testing methods. These priorities must be expanded in order to address the economic significance of seedborne pathogens as they relate to quality of seeds and to transmissibility of pathogens by seeds. This symposium emphasizes three specific areas of research in seed pathology that can contribute to improving the global seed health system.
Results and discussion
Molecular and serological seed health testing methods have revolutionized plant disease diagnostics. In the area of seed pathology, they offer the opportunity for development of rapid, sensitive and specific seed health assays. They also have opened up the area of detection of seedborne bacteria and viruses, that have been difficult to test for with traditional methods.
Lack of access to scientific information is a major contributory factor in establishing unnecessary phytosanitary regulations. An extensive world literature on seedborne diseases exists that could be used to determine seedborne pathogens that constitute economic risk. However, it remains largely untapped, due to a lack of systematic organization of the information and to difficulties in accessing hard copy reference sources, particularly in developing countries. Recent advances in the electronic media are now being exploited to disseminate seedborne disease data efficiently and economically throughout the world.